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1005009201 43 







Knpraved by Hrea after a bust modeled from life by Desseine 







Copyright, 1905 
By J. B. Lippincott Company 

Copyright^ !Qo8 
By George W. Jacobs 6- Co. 



WHEN I began these pages it was with the 
intention of preparing a course of lectures; but 
as the work progressed I, at last, decided to put 
the material gathered into book form. My orig- 
inal design was to trace briefly the causes of 
the French Revolution, and to group its prin- 
cipal events around Mirabeau, then Danton, and, 
lastly, Robespierre, the men who were the mani- 
festation of the Revolution in its three distinctive 
periods. This purpose is not wholly abandoned, 
for I hope to find time in the moments stolen from 
the duties of an exacting profession to carry out 
the plan as first conceived. My present purpose is 
to follow this book with the biographies of Dan- 
ton and Robespierre. 




Tench Revolution Its Causes Remote and Imme- 
e The State The Church Henry IV. Edict of 
ites ............................................ ii 


s and Jansenists The Clergy The People The 
Nobles The Manorial Lords Courtiers Game Laws 
Corvees Feudal Burdens The Gabelle Farmers 
General Military Service Administration of Justice 
^-~ Paris ............................................ 32 


Louis XIV. His Power Etiquette Extravagance of 
the Court The Glory of the King .................. 55 

Louis XV. Louis XVI. Marie Antoinette ........... 72 


The American Revolution Benjamin Franklin Beau- 
marchais .......................................... 94 


Financial Condition Immediate Cause of French Revolu- 
tion Turgot Necker Calonne The Notables 
Lomenie de Brienne States General Summoned 
Necker Recalled .................................. 104 



Meeting of the States General Mirabeau 115 


Comte de Mirabeau The Mirabeaus Bruno Jean An- 
toine Victor 131 


Mirabeau's Birth His Youth School Days Early 
Manhood Marriage 149 


Sophie de Monnier Seduction of Sophie Mirabeau in 
Prison at Vincennes Letters to Sophie Lettres de 
Cachet Trial at Pontarlier Suit at Aix . . 160 


Madame de Nehra Mirabeau's Wanderings His Ex- 
travagance Mirabeau's Energy His Manner of 
Work His Biographers 180 


Necker and Calonne Meeting of Necker and Mirabeau 
Mirabeau Seeks Secretaryship of the Notables 
Stands as Deputy of Third Estate Campaign in Aix 
and Marseilles 191 


Double Representation for Third Estate Mirabeau De- 
cides to Stand for Aix Paris 203 



States General in Session The King's Speech The 
Orders Attempted Suppression of Mirabeau's Paper 
Mirabeau's First Triumph Commons Steadfast 
Robespierre 212 


Death of the Dauphin Third Estate Calls on Nobles and 
Clergy to Submit to Common Verification Name of 
Convention Spirited Debate Sieyes Oath of the 
Tennis Court Royal Sitting Assembly Refuses to 
Adjourn Mirabeau Defies the Order of the King . . 235 


Dismissal of Necker Breteuil Named Minister 
Camille Desmoulins Fall of the Bastile Versailles 
Louis Visits the Assembly Louis goes to Paris 
Desertion and Emigration of the Nobles Talleyrand 259 


Necker Recalled His Return a Triumph Amnesty 
Mirabeau Excuses Violence of the Mob The Consti- 
tution Declaration of Rights Abolition of Privileges 
August the Fourth 280 


Progress of the Revolution Mirabeau's Part in the 
Events Maury Cazales Assembly's Address to the 
People Address to the King 290 


Necker Proposes Income Tax of Twenty-five Per Cent. 
Mirabeau Supports Necker Mirabeau Seeks Popu- 
larity in the Districts His Ambition to be a Minister 301 



Banquet of the Guards Fifth and Sixth of October 
Royal Family go to Paris They Occupy the Tuileries 
The Assembly Follows the King to Paris The 
Duke of Orleans 311 


Murder of Francois the Baker Mirabeau Intrigues for 

a Portfolio Motion of Petion Mirabeau's Speech 

. against the Amendment Proposed by Blin Mirabeau's 

Negotiations with the Court Mirabeau Pensioned 

His Interview with the Queen 328 


Mirabeau Makes Overtures to Necker and La Fayette 
Mirabeau and the Court Mirabeau's Manner of 
Living Was Mirabeau Venal? The King and the 
Revolution 345 


Marquis de Favras Confiscation of Church Property 
Assignats 361 


Court Party Endeavors to Secure New Elections in the 
Districts Festival of the Federation Massacre at 
Nancy 372 


Necker Resigns Rabaut St. Etienne's Motion Mira- 
beau Elected President of the National Assembly 
His Address to the Quakers Emigration of the King's 
Aunts Mirabeau at the Club of the Jacobins 391 

Mirabeau's Closing Days His Death His Funeral 

Was He Poisoned ? 410 




Mirabeau Compared with his Colleagues Orator Au- 
thor Statesman Politician Religious Views Slave 
Trade 422 


Mirabeau's Vices and Virtues Manner of Dress His 
Extravagance His Vanity Could He have Saved the 
Monarchy ? Conclusion 453 



MIRABEAU. Engraved by Brea after a bust modeled from 
life by Desseine .......................... Frontispiece 

HENRY IV. From an engraving in the collection of 
William J. Latta, Esq., of Philadelphia ............... 28 

Louis XIV. From an old engraving .................... 60 

Louis XV. After a painting by L. M. Vanloo ......... 74 

BEAUMARCHAIS. From an engraving in the collection of 
William J. Latta, Esq ................................ 100 

TURGOT. From an engraving in the collection of William 
J. Latta, Esq ......................................... 106 

MADAME DE STAEL. From an engraving in the collection 
of William J. Latta, Esq ............................. 122 

MARQUIS DE MIRABEAU. After a painting by Therese 
Boucher (1781) ....................................... 144 

THE BAILLI DE MIRABEAU. After a painting by Aved 
(1748) ............................................... 154 

SOPHIE DE MONNIER. After a painting attributed to 
Heinsius. Drawn by John R. Neill ................... 160 

MADAME DE NEHRA. From an old print ................. 180 

John R. Neill ........................................ 252 

TALLEYRAND. From an engraving in the collection of 
William J. Latta, Esq ................................ 278 

MIRABEAU IN THE TRIBUNE. From an engraving in the 
collection of William J. Latta, Esq. After a painting by 
Delaroche ........................................... 292 

JEAN BAPTISTE CLOOTZ. From an engraving by Bonne- 
ville ....................................... ......... 378 

original is in the possession of William J. Latta, Esq. . . 438 










THE most interesting and fascinating period in 
the history of modern times is that in France ex- 
tending from the reign of Louis XIV. to the battle 
of Waterloo. In fact, there are but few, if any, 
epochs in the world's history in which more useful 
lessons are taught to the philosopher, the states- 
man, and the student of human nature. The con- 
trasts are strongly marked. There is offered for 
our study and contemplation every phase of life 
from the highest to the lowest stratum of society. 
We witness the dazzling splendor of a corrupt 
court, the suffering and the degradation of an op- 
pressed people, a Revolution without a parallel in 
the history of man, followed by a succession of the 
most glorious military victories the world has ever 

The period began with the reign of a proud, 
pompous, and voluptuous prince, the lineal succes- 


sor of a long line of kings, who claimed to rule by 
divine right, and ended in an imperialism estab- 
lished by an audacious usurper, who was socially 
a plebeian, by birth a foreigner, and so far as royal 
hereditary blood was concerned, had not a drop 
of it in his veins. 

Into this period are crowded events and incidents 
of the most exciting and instructive character. We 
have absolutism in its most pronounced form, lead- 
ing to anarchy of the most radical type, the one as 
lawless as the other; the overturning of the mon- 
archy was but a change from misrule to no rule. 

The brilliant and corrupt court, with its stilted 
etiquette and formal ceremony, was expensive, 
luxurious, and useless; the people, taxed to main- 
tain this display and waste, were hungry, almost 
naked, and impoverished. 

The injustice, the tyranny, the accumulated 
wrongs and miseries of centuries produced a Revo- 
lution that was one of the most violent upheavals 
recorded in the history of governments among 
men. When it broke upon the nation it was like 
opening the dykes of an angry flood that, escaping 
from its confinement, carried everything before it 
to destruction. Feudalism, Bourbonism, the 
church, dynasties, king, queen, princes of the blood, 
nobles, laws, customs, traditions, prerogatives, 
privileges, pensions, exemptions, were swept away 
to ruin upon its raging torrent. 

It was only in France that so terrific a convul- 
sion could have taken place. It was distinctively 
a revoluti< -i of an impulsive, emotional people that 
had suffered long under tyranny, vassalage, and 



serfdom. It was of gradual growth, but as in- 
evitable as fate. Under the melancholy conditions 
that existed it was imperative ; delay only increased 
and aggravated the causes and strengthened the 
argument and reasons for its necessity. The in- 
difference, extravagance, insolence, and inhu- 
manity of the nobles had created the conditions 
that provoked this unrestrained violence. 

The mob came from their faubourgs like a swarm 
of naked demons vomited out of the mouth of 
hell, " vagabonds, ragged fellows, many almost 
naked with appalling faces, beings one does not 
remember to have seen by daylight, a frightful 
physiognomy, a hideous attire." 

There is no sight more terrifying than an excited 
and enraged mob in motion; its raucous voice, the 
anger depicted in its aspect, its power for de- 
struction, the very uncertainty of its action, which 
creates the additional dread of suspense, strike ter- 
ror into the heart of the bravest. The individual 
faces may not be repulsive nor forbidding, but in a. 
mass they assume a different aspect, and every 
head seems to be that of a Gorgon. 

The government was in the streets ; the women 
of the market were the prime ministers; the crea- 
tors and censors of public opinion were the rabble. 
It was a wild orgy of hate, a revelry of crime. Re- 
ligion and authority were defied and overthrown. 
Atheism set up the god of self, undermined re- 
ligious faith, which is the strongest foundation of 
society, and made the mistake of judging the vir- 
tue of the church by the vice of the prelate. 

The lamp-post and, later, the guillotine, became 


the altars upon which were immolated the victims 
of anarchy. The mob actually delighted in the 
shedding of human blood, it developed the instinct 
of the cannibal, its appetite grew by what it fed on, 
and after slaughtering its enemies it turned like a 
Saturn to devour its own children. 

It exulted over the cruel and cowardly murder 
of the Princess Lamballe, and, in fiendish demoni- 
acal glee, combed the locks and washed the face 
of the gory head and triumphantly carried it on 
a pike, to shake it before the windows of the Tem- 
ple, where was imprisoned the fallen and humili- 
ated queen. 

It shouted with delight when the king, Marie 
Antoinette, and the lovely Princess Elizabeth went 
to execution. 

It covered with flowers the dying Mirabeau, 
followed him with tears in solemn and respect- 
ful procession to the Pantheon, and then after- 
wards, in hate, exhumed his body and scattered 
his ashes to the four winds of heaven. ' Incon- 
stant in its loyalty, like all mobs, fickle, variable 
as the wind, it sacrificed its idols one after the 
other in this deluge of blood. It followed, with 
shouts of derision, the tumbril that carried the 
Duke of Orleans to the scaffold. It yelled itself 
hoarse with joy when the Girondists, the hope of 
the Revolution, mounted the guillotine. It had no 
pity for poor Camille Desmoulins, who had so 
often charmed it with his eloquence. It applauded 
when the monster, Hebert, the mighty titanic Dan- 
ton, and, at last, the " incorruptible" Robespierre, 
paid the penalty of relying on its support and trust- 


ing to its whimsical loyalty. Unreasonable, im- 
pressionable, impulsive, a word aptly spoken could 
turn it from its purpose, or send it on a new errand 
of crime. Its idol of to-day became the victim 
of its wrath to-morrow. 

The temper of the mob was fiendish when the 
opportunity came for revenge. Could anything 
else have been expected ? The fault lay at the door 
of the rich, powerful, and privileged classes; the 
people were not to blame, they were not respon- 
sible for the existing conditions, nor had they 
created the causes that induced the Revolution. 
The nobles had laughed at their distresses, sneered 
at their complaints, scoffed at their petitions, and 
forced them to submit to their cruel exactions. 
When in the days of famine the starving peasants 
cried for bread they were told to eat grass, and 
yet it was upon the money wrung by taxation from 
these poor creatures that the nobles were enabled 
to live their lives of pleasure and debauchery. 
They scorned, humiliated, and tortured the poor; 
they seemed to take special delight in venting their 
spite upon the victims of their injustice. The 
young nobles, in their wild escapades, were, at 
times, wanton and ingenious in their cruelty. 
They set at defiance every law of God and man 
and committed acts so atrocious, so inhuman in 
their character, that they cannot be described 
without offending decency. They inflicted torture 
upon their victims men and women in mere 
sport; they were controlled by a lustful, fiendish 
disposition that outraged every sentiment of hu- 
manity. The fury of the wild and savage pikemen 


in the days of " The Red Terror" may, in a meas- 
ure, be excused when we recall the deeds of these 
unworthy scions of ancient and distinguished 
names. The bleeding heads of the aristocrats on 
the pikes of the sans-culottes were but the revenge 
of the agbnized and bleeding hearts of the long- 
suffering poor. 

When we study the events that preceded the 
Revolution we marvel that it so long delayed its 
coming. Even Rome made some reparation for 
her spoliation and tyranny by amusing her people 
with the games of the circus, by providing them 
with the luxury of public baths, and by feeding 
them with bread paid for out of the public treas- 
ury ;^but France taxed, robbed, and starved her| 
/poor to furnish amusement, pomp, and splendor 
( her frivolous and luxurious court. 

To trace the causes of the French Revolution 
necessitates a study of the history of France from 
the beginning of the feudal system as well as a 
careful study of the qualities, the characteristics, 
the laws, the moral, social, political, physical, and 
racial features of the French. 

After the fall of the Roman Empire the Gauls, 
who had been in possession of France, were con- 
quered by the Franks under Clovis, and the latter 
laid the foundations of the French monarchy and 
established the most severe and rigorous system 
of feudalism known throughout Europe. The 
Franks exacted from the conquered people all the 
dues of feudal superiors, and built up a system of 
separate states that took centuries to weld into one 



Democracy in France was of much later growth 
than in Switzerland and the Netherlands. While 
Italy was dotted with free cities and republics, 
while popular rights were being secured and con- 
stitutional liberty was being fostered, the feudalism 
of France was crushing the people under the rule 
of king and lords. 

The friction between the crown and its vassals 
was constant and irritating. A combination of a 
few powerful barons would often interfere with 
the purposes of an ambitious king and in many 
ways curtail his power and influence. Allegiance 
to the crown sat lightly upon these haughty lords, 
who were absolute in their own manors or domains 
and brooked no insolence from any superior, in 
fact, often defying in open rebellion even the king 
himself. In times of foreign invasion they had 
frequently to be won over to the aid of the crown, 
and at such times, in consideration of their services, 
exacted concessions that strengthened their power 
and independence. 

France was a great kingdom of many little 
kingdoms, and the struggle was a long and 
bitter one to consolidate and cement these sepa- 
rate and distinct parts into one whole and to 
centralize the supreme authority in one head, the 

The civil wars of the Fronde helped to break the 
independence of the barons and, at last, under the 
vigorous administration of Richelieu, the crown 
was made absolute. " In a word," says Mignet, 
" power had become more and more concentrated, 
and as it had passed from the many to the few, it 

2 17 


came, at last, from the few to be invested in one 

No longer did the king have to depend upon 
the feudal lords for his army, for now he had 
means to support his own and was able to wage 
war against a foreign enemy or compel obedience 
from a rebellious vassal. 

The church was another enemy to the absolu- 
tism of the crown, it was an " imperium in im- 
perio," and its first allegiance was due to Rome. 
Its power was not confined within the limits of 
any state, it was world wide. It was ever jealous 
of its rights, and always ready to resent any at- 
tempt made by the state to encroach upon its juris- 
diction. It had built up a system that was based 
upon divine creation and authority. Its wealth, its 
vast possessions and privileges, its influence over 
the minds and consciences of men gave it an im- 
mense power in temporal as well as in spiritual 
matters. It had no standing army, but it had, in- 
stead, that terrible weapon of excommunication 
that made the most defiant monarch tremble and 
do penance. When it fulmined its decree from 
Rome, the king who defied its authority became an 
outcast, a social pariah ; he was shorn of his power 
and his people absolved from their allegiance. 

The organization of the Roman Church com- 
mands the admiration of the world. It is one of 
the greatest creations ever conceived and devised 
by the wit and intellect of man. The church is an 
army waging a persistent and relentless warfare 
in the cause of religion. Its campaign lasts not for 
a season, but for all time. The army never sleeps, 


never camps over night; it is ever on the march, 
following the standard of the cross beyond the 
seas, over the deserts, into benighted regions, com- 
bating heresy and converting the heathen. It 
brooks no opposition within its fold, it deals sum- 
marily with the rebellious. It commands obedi- 
ence to its teachings, implicit faith in its doctrines, 
and promises to the faithful eternal life. Its only 
purpose is to proselyte the world and to enlarge 
the scope of its influence and power. 

It is one great empire. Its domain is the uni- 
verse, its capital is Rome, its subjects owe an 
allegiance to one head; they speak every known 
tongue, but have only one creed, one law. Its 
policies are catholic; its influence and purposes 
are eternal. It brings to its service the prince and 
the beggar; it is democratic in its methods of 
salvation, imperialistic in its organization and 

Its altars are found in every clime, in every 
zone. Its domain extends into those far remote 
lands whose shores are washed by the waters of 
the polar seas. It reaches from the east coast of 
America to the furthermost island in Polynesia, 
from the west coast of Africa to New Guinea, from 
Patagonia to Greenland, from Kamtchatka to 
Tasmania. Its followers are found in the lands 
of Confucius, Buddha, and Mahomet; every- 
where in the known world its cross glitters and its 
doctrines are taught. It has lasted for centuries, 
at times shaken by schism, heresy, and dissension, 
but through all its perils and vicissitudes it has re- 
tained its entity, its faith, and its integrity, and will 


exist until the world dissolves, until the last second 
of recorded time. 

A struggle for supremacy with so mighty a 
power as this required all the intelligence, cour- 
age, and force the state could bring to bear. 

The contest in France continued uninterruptedly 
for centuries; it was long and bitter and was 
waged with all the arts and methods of intrigue 
and subtle diplomacy known to crafty churchmen 
and resourceful politicians, but gradually the state 
gained the ascendancy, and the pope in the reign of 
Francis I. granted to the crown the power of nomi- 
nation to ecclesiastical dignities. 

There was at no time a struggle for mastery 
between the king and a stubborn churchman, such 
as that witnessed in England in the days of Henry 
II. and Thomas a'Becket, nor did a French king 
ever have to go to Canossa as the result of a conflict 
with the pope. The French clergy did not produce 
such a character as Becket, nor did a French king 
provoke so savagely the wrath of Rome as did 
Henry IV., of Germany. 

The encroachment, however, upon the power of 
the church was gradual but sure; her wealth was 
not diminished, nor were her estates confiscated, 
nor her privileges and exemption from taxation 
abolished, but she was deprived of her temporal 
power, and her right of appointment to ecclesias- 
tical offices was greatly curtailed. 

This long conflict between the state and the 

church, however, had not estranged the loyalty 

of the people from the latter. No people were ever 

more devoted or more closely wedded to their re- 



ligious faith than the French, and yet no nation 
was ever so overwhelmed, at last, by irreligion and 

It is in France that the first example is offered 
of the inclination of the Roman Church to use 
methods of extreme violence against dissenters. 
The Albigenses, in the south of France, were re- 
formers who separated from the communion of 
Rome in the thirteenth century. A crusade was 
preached against them by Pope Innocent III., and 
an army of half a million men, under the leader- 
ship of Simon de Montfort, the Earl of Leicester, 
invaded the rebellious territory and, after many 
years of bitter and persistent warfare, eradicated 
the heresy until not a vestige of it was left. The 
land was swept as by a fire. 

It was during this period that the tribunal of the 
Inquisition was first set up, about the year 1210, 
and began that cruel system of coercion by tor- 
ture that endeavored to control the faith and the 
reason of men. Spinoza, philosophizing on this 
subject, says : " Men are so made as to resent noth- 
ing more impatiently than to be treated as criminal 
on account of opinions which they deem true, and 
charged as guilty for simply what wakes their 
affection to God and men. Hence, laws about 
opinions are aimed not at the base, but at the noble, 
and tend not to restrain the evil-minded, but rather 
to irritate the good, and cannot be enforced with- 
out great peril to the government. . . . What evil 
can be imagined greater for a state than that 
honorable men, because they have thoughts of 
their own and cannot act a lie, are sent as culprits 



into exile ! What more baneful than that men, for 
no guilt or wrong-doing, but for the generous 
largeness of their mind, should be taken for ene- 
mies and led off to death, and that the torture bed, 
the terror of the bad, should become, to the signal 
shame of authority, the finest stage for the public 
spectacle of endurance and virtue!" 

Does it not seem strange, in the light of the 
present civilization, that it was ever considered 
possible to change an opinion of the mind by the 
torture of the body? Is a recantation of a belief 
to be depended upon if made under such circum- 
stances? Did the opinion of Galileo undergo a 
change because he was threatened with the rack? 
No more than did the earth stop its motion. 

But intolerance was the spirit of the age ; men's 
minds had not been enlightened, they were blinded 
by bigotry and superstition the twin daughters of 
ignorance. The church but reflected the thought 
of the times, for this system which appears so cruel 
and unreasonable to all of us to-day received the 
unqualified endorsement and support of the wisest 
and best men among the laity as well as the clergy. 

The judges who sat in the tribunal of the Inqui- 
sition were, to be sure, religious fanatics, but out- 
side of this, no doubt, they were devout, honest, 
God-fearing and exemplary in their lives. They 
were not naturally cruel, they would not have tor- 
tured anything except a heretic. They were simply 
influenced and dominated by that spirit of religious 
intolerance that blinds men to the truth and has, in 
every age, halted the world in its progress. 

It is hard to believe that any act could be more 


intolerant in its character than that known as the 
edict of 1550 against heretics, enacted at the in- 
stance of Philip II. Under its provisions no citizen 
was allowed " to print, copy, keep, conceal, sell, 
buy, or give any book or writing made by Luther, 
Calvin, Zwingli, or any other heretic, nor break or 
injure the images of the Virgin or the Saints, nor 
to hold or attend any meeting where heretics 
teach." The punishment prescribed for its viola- 
tion was death by sword, by fire, or by burial alive. 
A like punishment was provided for those who 
would dare to lodge, shelter, entertain, nurse, feed, 
or clothe a suspected heretic. Even failure to be- 
tray a heretic, though he were a friend, was pun- 
ished by death. 

Intolerance and bigotry were not confined to one 
sect nor to one state. They controlled all classes 
of Christians, and, unfortunately, their spirit has 
not entirely disappeared even in this age of boasted 
civilization and enlightenment. 

In the reign of Elizabeth of England, in retalia- 
tion of the bull of Pope Pius V., a law was passed 
which provided that if any Catholic shall convert 
a Protestant to the Romish church they shall both 
suffer death for high treason ; and this was not an 
exceptional act, it was characteristic of the cruel 
bigotry of the times. There were hundreds like it, 
but this is cited simply to give an idea of the in- 
tolerance that prevailed throughout all Christen- 

The act was carefully considered, passed Par- 
liament, received the sanction of the queen and 
the approval of the people. The Anglican and the 


Calvinist were just as intolerant as the Romanist. 
After Calvin had escaped martyrdom at Paris he 
returned to Geneva to send Servetus to the stake. 

The world had not reached the point where 
the church and the state were willing to concede 
to the people the right to enjoy religious and politi- 
cal liberty. Perhaps, too, the times and the condi- 
tions were not ripe for these blessings. It was 
not an age when anyone could, with impunity, 
have uttered the truth that " for their religious 
opinions men are responsible to God alone." It 
took centuries of tears and blood and strife, in the 
efforts that were made, to reconcile the world to 
the acceptance of this great truth, and after all this 
sacrifice, even to-day, in many lands, the light has 
not yet penetrated the darkness. 

The stake, the rack, and the thumbscrew were 
used to control the consciences of men. Religious 
sectarian contention plunged nations into wars that 
were cruelly and relentlessly waged in the name 
of the gentle teacher of Nazareth, who taught 
men to love one another. 

It was an age when men believed in coercion 
rather than persuasion, force rather than argu- 
ment. Freedom of inquiry was out of the ques- 
tion. What right had the people to think for them- 
selves? The civic duty of the citizen was to submit 
patiently and willingly to the tyranny and abso- 
lutism of the crown and his religious duty to accept 
without question the dogmas of the church. 

The advocate Barbier, in the eighteenth century, 
shows the subservient disposition of that age when 
he writes : " I believe that one has to fulfil his 


duties honorably without concerning one's self 
with state affairs in which one has no mission and 
exercises no power." On the other hand, it was 
the duty of the faithful to accept the doctrines of 
the church with implicit belief. To question, was 
to doubt; to doubt, was to sin, and there was no 
sin blacker nor more deadly than heresy. 

It was believed and argued that so important 
was the matter of faith in the scheme of the sal- 
vation of men's souls, that no method was too 
severe that would save the people from heresy and 
its dire and dreadful consequences. To be sure, the 
spirit of religious intolerance has been modified by 
time, but until it entirely disappears the difference 
between the past ages and our own, in this matter 
of intolerance, is after all only one of degree. 

Men can argue upon almost any question with- 
out acrimony except that of religion. Contention 
between political parties has never been so violent, 
so rancorous as that between Christian sects. Re- 
ligious belief is considered the most vital and im- 
portant question that relates to man's welfare here 
and hereafter, and yet, strange to say, nothing so 
arouses the anger and the passions of the human 
heart, and creates a hatred so bitter and so relent- 
less as religious differences. They separate parent 
from child, husband from wife, brother from sister, 
lover from maid. So sensitive are men on the 
subject of their religion that the slightest reflection 
on their faith arouses all the opposition in their 

There is no question that should be more moder- 
ately discussed without bias or prejudice in order 


that the truth may be ascertained and the merits 
of both sides understood, and yet it seems to be 
the one question that cannot be debated fairly 
by ardent partisans. They misjudge each other, 
quarrel over mere terms, differ on non-essentials, 
and in many instances end the controversy in 
violent language and a broken friendship. " If 
men would once consider one another reasonably, 
they would either reconcile their differences, or 
maintain them more amicably," is the wise say- 
ing of William Penn. Even conservative and 
reasonable men seem to lose their usual good judg- 
ment in religious discussion. 

The bitter and bloody struggles, the hate engen- 
dered by the intolerance and the persecutions of the 
past, seem to have left wounds that still rankle and 
fester in the soul, but the broadening spirit and the 
refining influences of education and general en- 
lightenment will, in time, heal the wounds until 
there will be left not even the vestige of a scar. 

After all, in the vast majority of instances, re- 
ligious belief is a matter that depends on birth, 
early associations, and education. The intolerant 
bigot of one sect would be just as intolerant if he 
had been born and bred under other conditions or 
in the fold of another creed. Men inherit their re- 
ligion as they do their racial features and charac- 

Some men show their loyalty to their church by 
being bigoted and intolerant in their support of its 
doctrines. They think they prove their fidelity 
by an unadulterated prejudice. Even men whose 
conduct of life is in direct contradiction to the 


teachings and the tenets of their church, show a 
bitter hostility to any and all opposition to their 
religion, whose creed they do not understand and 
whose precepts they habitually disobey. They, no 
doubt, display an ardent loyalty to their faith, in 
the hope of receiving the favor of the church, 
which they really so little merit. 

The Reformation had awakened thought 
throughout Europe, but the Roman church deter- 
minedly opposed free inquiry and exerted its power 
to prevent the spread of the new doctrines. But 
for the efforts of Philip II. of Spain and Ignatius 
Loyola the Reformation would have made much 
greater headway. To Louis XIV. must be given 
the credit of staying its progress in France. 

The Edict of Nantes was an epoch-making event 
in the reign of a liberal prince. It guaranteed to 
every Christian worshipper the unfettered exercise 
of his religion. 

Henry IV. was a born leader, a man of action 
and ambition. In council he was wise and judi- 
cious, as a statesman he was able, and as a poli- 
tician, tactful, diplomatic, and unscrupulous. A 
braver soldier never led an army to battle ; he had 
those qualities of heart and mind that inspired con- 
fidence and courage in his followers. " If you 
lose sight of your ensigns, rally around my plume ; 
you will always find it on the high road to honor" 
were the eloquent words he addressed to his 
troops at Ivry. With so brave a leader, victory is 
half won before the battle begins. 

He was liberal and tolerant in his views and the 

only popular king in the Bourbon line. He 


earnestly desired to promote the public welfare. 
His wish that every peasant might have a fowl in 
his pot on Sunday was a new sentiment in the 
heart of a French king and endeared him to the 
people. His reign was the only rift in the dark 
clouds of Bourbonism, that for more than two 
centuries overshadowed France. 

He was without strong religious convictions, 
and he easily abjured his creed when it stood be- 
tween him and the throne, jauntily remarking that 
" the crown was worth a mass." 

He had one great quality that was sadly lacking 
in the kings of France, and that was a tolerant 
spirit. He was not a bigot, and his edict of tolera- 
tion was a blessing to his country. 

Louis XIV. subdued the nobility and the church, 
restrained Parliament, and made them all de- 
pendent upon his royal will. He quelled opposi- 
tion whenever and in whatever form it manifested 
itself, and revoked the Edict of Nantes because it 
allowed a religious freedom not in consonance with 
his royal desire. Its revocation was both a crime and 
a blunder. It revived the old spirit of intolerance 
and persecution. It was turning back the hands of 
the clock ; it was out of time, out of step with the 
advancing and expanding thought of the day. 

An illiberal and unjust act done in the name of 
religion must in due season cause a reaction and 
weaken the influence of the church. This may 
not happen at the moment when bigotry inflames 
and brutalizes the minds of men, but if time be 
given for reflection, reason will show the error and 
point the injustice. 


From an engraving in the collection of William J. Latta, Esq. 


The Edict of Nantes was for the protection of 
the Huguenots and to call home from exile the 
descendants of those who had fled from the hor- 
rors of the massacre of the St. Bartholomew. Its 
revocation revived intolerance and persecution and 
assured the dominancy of one creed, one church. 

In France the Huguenots were among the most 
industrious, prosperous, and enlightened of all the 
king's subjects. They were devoutly religious, 
were loyal to government, peace-loving, and toler- 
ant of the opinions of others. 

The massacre of these useful citizens on St. 
Bartholomew's Eve was a crime of the most hein- 
ous character; it shocked all Europe and made a 
deep impression upon the thought of the age. " No 
example of equal barbarity," says De Thou, " is to 
be found in all antiquity or in the annals of the 
world." It was so wicked in its conception, so 
unjust in its purpose, and so cruel in its execution 
that, in time, it created a sympathy for its victims, 
estranged the minds of men from the faith of their 
fathers, and begat an opposition not only to the 
church, but to the principles of Christianity. It 
no doubt, to a considerable degree, aided in the de- 
velopment and advancement of the infidelity that 
subsequently swept over France, destroying nearly 
every trace of the old faith, until, at last, in the 
noble Cathedral of Notre Dame, the altars of 
Christ were overturned, the worship of the living 
God dispensed with, and the Goddess of Reason set 
up in the person of a beautiful harlot. 

The persecution entirely failed of its purpose; 
instead of strengthening the church in France, it 


arrayed thoughtful men against its methods, it 
aroused discussion, criticism, and denunciation, 
and men, failing to distinguish the true faith from 
the acts of its disciples, lost confidence in religion 
and embraced a cold and heartless infidelity. The 
persecution, instead of making men good Chris- 
tians, made them bigots, hypocrites, or infidels. 

The loss to France, by the exile of these useful 
citizens, the Huguenots, was irreparable; many of 
them were the flower of their race and they were 
scattered by a brutal bigotry to the four corners of 
the earth, carrying with them, however, all their 
skill and talents to enrich the peoples among whom 
they settled. In the language of Voltaire, "the 
French were as widely dispersed as the Jews." 
The massacre resulted not only in depriving France 
of many of her best citizens, but left in the mind 
and heart of the nation the memory of a great 
wrong done in the name of religion. Men were 
breaking away from the restraints of the church 
and were beginning, without bigotry, to criticise 
and denounce injustice wherever and by whomever 

In the National Assembly, during the Revolu- 
tion, the frequent references made by the orators 
in their debates to the massacre of the St. Bartholo- 
mew show how the injustice and the cruelty of 
that dire event had impressed the minds of men 
and had lessened their reverence for the church. 
" It was at that time," says Victor Hugo, " an 
oratorical custom to interject into every discourse 
some imprecation, or other, on the massacre of the 
Saint Bartholomew." Vergniaud, in one of his 


wild flights, saw " spectres of the Medici gliding 
along the corridors of the Tuileries preparing an- 
other St. Bartholomew of patriots." 

Upon one occasion, in the Constituent Assembly, 
a resolution was offered by a representative of the 
clergy, declaring " the Catholic religion is and 
shall ever be the religion of the nation and its wor- 
ship the only one authorized." One of the depu- 
ties of the Noblesse, in an argument supporting 
this intolerant measure, referred to a decree in 
point that had received the sanction of Louis XIV. 
In an instant, Mirabeau was on his feet and de- 
nounced the measure as unjust and illiberal. 
" And how should not every act of intolerance," 
he thundered, " have been consecrated in a reign 
signalized by the revocation of the Edict of 
Nantes? Do you appeal to history? Forget not 
that from this very tribune I behold the window 
whence a king of France, armed against his people 
by a hateful faction, which disguised personal in- 
terest under the cloak of religion, fired his musket 
and gave the signal for the massacre of the St. 
Bartholomew!" The hall resounded with cheers 
and applause and the intolerant resolution was 
voted down. A few days later, Roederer, a deputy 
who must have had a Scotch strain in his make 
up, solemnly stated that having carefully exam- 
ined into the matter, he was prepared to prove that 
the window alluded to by Mirabeau could not be 
seen from the tribune. Mirabeau bent his head to 
the blow and gravely replied : " I suspect that you 
are half right, but at the time I was speaking, I 
certainly saw it." 







THE controversy between the Jesuits and the 
Jansenists was an important event in the history 
of the emancipation of the minds of men from the 
severe and uncompromising rule of mere doctrine. 
All France was inflamed by the angry discussion. 
Bulls and denunciations thundered from the Vati- 
can, but they only surcharged the already heated 
air and increased the bitterness of the contention. 
Both sides struggled to gain the favor of the court, 
but at la^t the Jansenists were proscribed by the 
king, and their cloister at Port Royal was levelled 
to the ground. The influence of their liberalism, 
however, spread in every direction and planted the 
seeds of revolution. It was the working of the 
democratic leaven in the church, and " the embers," 
says Taine, " smouldering in the ashes are to be 
of use in 1791 when the ecclesiastical edifice comes 
to be attacked." in those dreadful days when the 
mob having lost all respect for the church, all 
reverence for sacred things, will cry out in its wild 
rage: " Tous les eveques, a la lanterne." / 

When the court decided upon the destruction of 


Jansenism, it revealed the spirit of the old order, 
and the cruel act resulted in further strengthening 
the sentiment of toleration among the people. 

" The good city of Paris," wrote Barbier in 
1733, " is Jansenist from top to bottom ... the 
mass of the Parisians, men, women, and children, 
all upholding that doctrine, without comprehend- 
ing it or understanding any of its distinctions and 
interpretations, out of hatred to Rome and the 
Jesuits. Women, the silliest, and even chamber- 
maids would be hacked to pieces for it." 

Little did they understand the nice theological 
distinctions that were drawn in relation to the deli- 
cate subject of the grace of God and man's salva- 
tion thereby. The questions in controversy were 
too subtle and abstruse for the common mind to 
comprehend, but the people were beginning to op- 
pose injustice and persecution in every form, and, 
irrespective of the questions involved, they saw 
only a great power arbitrarily exercised in the sup- 
pression of free inquiry. The church of Rome had 
lost much of her influence because of her deter- 
mination, at all hazards, to stifle freedom of 
thought; and yet she claimed to be honest in her 
purpose for she contended that in her keeping 
alone were the means of salvation, and she deemed 
it to the ultimate advantage of man that he should 
not err in a matter so important as his religious 
faith. Her reasoning in this matter did not differ 
from that of other sects at that time, for, unfor- 
tunately, they were nearly all intolerant. Her 
methods of coercion were more drastic and her per- 
secutions more severe than those of other sects, and 
33 3 


she put forth every effort to prevent the spread 
of heresy, and the withdrawal of dissenters from 
her fold. Her life, her integrity were in peril and 
she resorted to unjust and cruel methods to save 
her existence. It was a period of religious fanati- 
cism, strife, and persecution. The spirit of bigotry 
and intolerance controlled the minds and the con- 
duct of men ; it was born not of Christ, but of the 

The history of Christianity is written in blood. 
It is a story of contention, schism, intolerance, hate, 
war, persecution, and massacre. The founder of 
Christianity proclaimed the gospel of peace. His 
disciples forgot the example and the teachings of 
their Master, and for centuries the world was 
plunged into despair and groped its way through 
darkness. There was too much religion and not 
enough Christianity; too much dogma and not 
enough humanity ; too much man and not enough 

Another reason for the declining influence of 
the church, in France, was the conduct and the 
manner of living of many of the higher clergy, 
who, following the example of the court, indulged 
in extravagance and luxury at the expense of the 
poor. The lives of some of the princes of the 
church reflected on the cause they represented, and 
their conduct became so scandalous as to bring 
reproach upon religion itself, for the world will 
measure the truth of the church by the acts of its 
teachers. The infamous Dubois and the yet more 
infamous Rohan were not the only examples of 
profligate churchmen. 



The church became as rapacious as the state, 
and exacted every sou due under its seignorial 
rights. The two classes, the nobility and the upper 
clergy, selfishly and unjustly appropriated to them- 
selves all the advantages of society. ' These 
enemies of the happiness of the poor," writes the 
Breton philosopher, "pay nothing to the state; 
although they possess the greatest amount of 
goods and wealth, all is for them, nothing for us, 
and with this nothing we are obliged to provide all 
the needs of government." But while the upper 
clergy were enjoying their privileges, the poor 
cures, " les vrais pasteurs des ames," the real 
workers in the ministry, had hardly a subsistence. 
Meanly housed and poorly fed, they labored in 
their humble calling without encouragement and 
with no hope of advancement or preferment. They 
were the only earthly comforters to whom the poor 
could go; they sympathized with them in their 
sorrows, suffered with them in their distresses, 
advised with them in their troubles, and com- 
forted them when they were sick in body and 
in soul. It was because of their experience and 
personal knowledge of the miseries of the poor, 
that so many of the lower clergy espoused the cause 
of the Revolution. 

While these contests were going on between the 
king and the lords, between the state and the 
church, the condition of the people grew worse and 
worse, for the burdens of feudalism made their ex- 
istence akin to slavery. They, in truth, differed not 
a whit from the slaves in America, who, in a later 
age, by the supreme law of the land, were declared 


to have no rights which their masters were bound 
to respect. The nobles had all the privileges. The 
common people bore all the burdens, and were ex- 
cluded from every chance of preferment. 

Offices, mere sinecures, were created for the 
maintenance of the favored and privileged classes. 
Pensions were lavished on courtiers and mistresses. 
Louis XIV. squandered upon Madame de Fontan- 
ges the revenues of a province and Louis XV. spent 
thirty-six million francs, worth at least seventy- 
two million francs of the money of to-day, upon 
Madame de Pompadour. 

Public offices were created merely to be sold. 
To such an extent had this abuse grown under 
prior reigns that Richelieu suppressed upwards of 
one hundred thousand of them during his ministry. 

Louis XIV. in 1692 abolished all municipal elec- 
tions, in order to increase the revenues of the 
crown by selling the right of governing the towns 
to those rich citizens who were willing to pay for 
the empty honor. These offices were sold and re- 
sold and became sources of great revenue to the 

The holding of office was deemed to confer dis- 
tinction upon the incumbent and it became the rage 
among the well-to-do middle classes to secure 
the honor by influence or purchase. The wit and 
the ingenuity of the government officials were 
severely taxed in their efforts to invent all sorts of 
offices to supply the public demand. Upon one 
occasion, the minister Demarest proposed to Louis 
XIV. the creation of some new ones. The king, 
failing to see why they should be created, asked, 


"Who is it that will buy them?" The minister 
replied, " Your Majesty is ignorant of one of the 
finest prerogatives of the kings of France, which is 
that when a king creates an office, God at the same 
moment creates a fool to buy it." 

The condition of the peasants was intolerable; 
it is almost impossible to describe it so as fully to 
depict the real misery that existed. Taine says, 
" The most part resembled the fellahs of Egypt or 
the laborers of Hindoostan." 

La Bruyere, in the latter part of the seventeenth 
century, wrote: "Certain savage-looking beings, 
male and female, are seen in the country, black, 
livid, and sunburnt, and belonging to the soil. 
They dig and grub with invincible stubbornness, 
they are, in fact, men. They live in dens and fare 
on black bread, water, and roots; they perish of 
hunger and destitution, the prey of the tax 

Massillon, in the middle of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, commenting on this matter, said : " The peo- 
ple of our country live in misery ; they have neither 
furniture nor beds; during part of the year most 
of them have no food except oaten bread. The 
negroes of our islands are happier." The peasants 
ate pulse and nettles and the bark of trees. In 
many instances they had no beds but slept in boxes 
filled with straw. Ignorant and debased as they 
were, reduced to the most wretched condition by 
cruelty and tyranny, they excited, strange to say, 
not the pity but the contempt of the nobles, who 
were really responsible for their degradation. It 
is generally the case that those who degrade or 


enslave their fellow-men look with scorn on the 
victims of their injustice. 

When the lords lived on the manors and gave 
attention to the interests of their tenants, the needs 
and wants of the latter received some consideration ; 
but when the crown centred in itself the glory and 
the splendor of the monarchy, the nobles flocked 
to Paris and Versailles, there to bask in the sun- 
shine of royal favor, and they drew the substance 
from their manors to maintain their extravagant 
and luxurious mode of living at the court. The tie 
between the lord and the vassal was severed and 
all that was left of feudalism was its burdens. 

Absenteeism was the curse of France as it has 
been a curse in more recent times in another land. 
No wonder the peasants when they passed the de- 
serted chateaux clenched their fists, muttered deep 
oaths, vowed vengeance, and remembered the days 
of the Jacquerie. 

Before the nobles were drawn to the court, they 
were identified with the social life of their neigh- 
bors and dependents ; and although the feudal 
duties were oppressive, the people looked upon the 
lords as those to whom the services were justly due. 

The lords kept open house and their hospitality, 
charity, and friendly offices endeared them to the 
people. They were kings in little kingdoms. They 
were regarded with respect and it was greatly to 
their interest and safety to inspire and secure the 
love and devotion of their tenants. Brave, manly, 
chivalrous and generous, they lived like princes in 
their provinces, but at Versailles they became mere 
flunkeys to the king, mere servants in attendance 


upon the ceremonies and functions of the court. 
Men who should have given valuable service to the 
state lost all sense of public duty and civic respon- 
sibility. Proud of their connection with the court, 
they looked down with disdain upon the common 
people, and even upon those persons of their own 
class who were not so fortunate as to be favored 
with royal recognition. 

At home, they lived as country gentlemen; at 
court they became mere gallants. They lost all 
spirit of independence in that they were beggars for 
royal favors and dependents on the king's bounty. 
They lived on pensions and for pleasure, and these 
were the considerations that induced them to sur- 
render their independence, a poor bargain, one 
would say, and without sufficient consideration. 
" In the enjoyment of plenty they soon lost the 
memory of freedom." 

They were adepts in all the fine features of 
polite society. They were keen and witty and 
would rather be the makers of famous epigrams 
than useful to the state. The French language, 
vivacious and expressive as it is, was never more 
adroitly used in lively conversation and " in turn- 
ing the phrases of flattery" than by those frivolous 
and irresponsible courtiers, who lived the lives of 

All high positions in the army and the church 
were secured through royal favor. The commons 
had no hope of preferment ; even to be a captain in 
the army, the applicant had to prove that he had 
four degrees of nobility. 

If revenue were needed for the government or 


for the support of the throne, it was wrung from 
the poor. The privileged classes that ought to 
have borne the burden and that alone were able to 
bear it, were exempt by law. The prince and the 
bishop revelled in luxury, the peasant and the cure 
were ill housed and ill fed. / 

Game laws were cruel and oppressive. The 
peasant was forbidden to enclose his land, his 
crops were ruthlessly destroyed, and he had no 
adequate remedy at law to recover damages for 
any injury done or loss sustained. He could keep 
neither dog nor gun, nor in the hatching season 
did he dare to disturb the game by the cultivation 
of his soil or the reaping of his crops. 

" There were numerous edicts for preserving the 
game which prohibited weeding and hoeing lest the 
young partridges should be disturbed; steeping 
seed, lest it should injure the game; manuring 
with night soil lest the flavor of the partridges 
should be injured by feeding on the corn so pro- 
duced; mowing hay before a certain time, so late 
as to spoil many crops ; and taking away the stub- 
ble which would deprive the birds of shelter." We 
should note that it was not only small game that 
was preserved, for the same writer further states 
that " by game it must be understood whole 
droves of wild boars and herds of deer not con- 
fined by any wall or pole, but wandering, at pleas- 
ure, over the whole country, to the destruction of 
crops; and to the peopling of the galleys by the 
wretched peasants who presumed to kill them in 
order to save that food which was to support their 
helpless children." 



In the bailiwick of Evreux " the game had de- 
stroyed everything up to the very houses. The 
rabbits became a pest and the peasants were not 
allowed to pull up the weeds in summer, which in- 
jured the seed sown, lest the partridges should be 
interfered with." Heavy penalties were imposed 
for the slightest violation of these inhuman stat- 
utes. Taine says, " The game wardens protected 
the beasts as if they were men and hunted the men 
as if they were beasts." 

The capitaineries were grants by the king of all 
the game of a certain district to the princes of 
the blood, even on lands which did not belong to 
them. This grant carried with it the right to hunt 
at pleasure over the ground belonging perhaps to 
a hundred or more different proprietors, tenants or 
small farmers. The right was paramount. No 
prior claims, manorial or otherwise, could inter- 
fere with this royal grant. It was distinct from 
the soil. It was simply a right of property in the 
game with the privilege of hunting, which right, 
under the English law, would be in the nature of 
an incorporeal hereditament. No matter how much 
damage the game and the hunters did to the land 
and the crops, the owner had no redress. It is 
strange the peasants themselves did not go hunt- 
ing occasionally, and not after partridges nor wild 
boar nor deer. 

The growing crops were trampled and crushed 
under the hoofs of the horses of the sporting 
barons who in the open season daily followed the 
chase. No interests were allowed to interfere with 
the amusement of the nobles. The peasant who 


had the temerity to remonstrate against the tres- 
pass would have been dealt with summarily for his 

There is nothing in the whole history of this 
vicious period that so clearly illustrates the utter 
disregard, the supreme indifference the nobles had 
for the rights of the common people, as the cruel 
exercise and enjoyment of these hunting privi- 

The peasant was compelled, under the corvee or 
statute labor, to do a certain amount of work 
annually in keeping the bridges and the public 
roads in repair. Arthur Young says : " These 
corvees, or police of the roads, were annually the 
ruin of many hundreds of farmers; more than 
three hundred were reduced to beggary in filling 
up one vale in Lorraine; all these oppressions fell 
on the tiers etat only, the nobility and the clergy 
having been equally exempted from tallies, militia, 
and corvees''' 

The peasant paid excessive tolls to travel on the 
highways, to be ferried across the rivers. He paid 
dues at the fairs and markets. He paid a tax 
called " the dove-cote right" for the privilege of 
keeping pigeons. He paid fees exorbitant in 
amount for the transfer of land. He was com- 
pelled to grind his corn at the lord's mill, press his 
grapes in the lord's wine press, bake his bread in 
the lord's oven, and kill his cattle in the lord's 
slaughter-house, and woe to the poor wretch who 
had the temerity to grind his own corn, press his 
own grapes, bake his own bread, or kill his own 



" Feudal tyranny, armed with judicial power, 
has not blushed at breaking hand mills, and at 
selling, annually, to the miserable, the faculty of 
bruising between two stones a measure of buck- 
wheat or barley." 

A very curious and humiliating service imposed 
upon the peasants was called " silence des gren- 
ouilles corvee a miser ic or de," which, when the wife 
of the lord of the manor was in travail, required 
the people to swish or beat the waters in marshy 
districts to keep the frogs silent, lest my lady 
should be disturbed. But even this was overtopped 
by the horrible privilege of la Marquette, or " baiser 
de Mariees," which allowed the lord to borrow 
the peasant's fiancee the night before the nuptials. 

We have not the time nor the space to enumerate 
the many degrading services to which the peasant 
was subjected. He paid tithes to the church and 
a multitude of local taxes, feudal dues and services 
of every conceivable character to the lord and to the 
state. He was hunted until he paid the last sou 
in his purse. He was often induced to resort to 
perjury to save his little, for if he told the truth, 
he ran the risk of being reduced to abject poverty. 
There was no encouragement given to him to im- 
prove his condition, for the first faint signs of pros- 
perity were followed by further impositions. " The 
more the peasant acquires and produces," says 
Taine, " the heavier his burdens become." 

The tax gatherer haunted him like a shadow, 

stood at the door of his home, followed him to 

church and interrupted him at his prayers. Taxes ! 

taxes! taxes! of every kind and character were 



levied upon the peasant and collected by severe 
and cruel processes. " The clothes of the poor are 
seized, their last measure of flour, even the latches 
on their doors." " The garret and the hut as well 
as the farm and the farm-house know the collector, 
the constable, and the bailiff ; no hovel escapes the 
detestable brood." These blood-suckers never re- 
laxed their efforts. If one showed any signs of 
sympathy for the suffering poor, he was removed, 
or else goaded by his rapacious and insatiable 
masters, under the threat of dismissal, to put forth 
fresh exertions. There was no avoiding the tax- 
gatherer, but by the way of death. The peasant 
paid a tribute to the state for the privilege of 
living; and, Oh, God! what a living! 

The gabelle, or salt tax, was one of the most 
odious and oppressive in the whole system of 
vicious taxation. It varied in amount in the dif- 
ferent provinces. It was unequally imposed and 
levied. Some districts were wholly exempt, while 
in others, it was a heavy burden. Each person, 
over seven years of age, had to buy seven pounds 
of salt a year, and this quantity he was compelled 
to purchase whether he wanted it or not. A neglect 
to comply with this law subjected the offender to 
the payment of a fine. This salt could be used only 
for cooking and for seasoning food for the table. 
It could not be used for curing meat and fish. If 
salt were needed for this purpose, an additional 
quantity had to be purchased and a certificate given. 
The inhabitants on the coast were forbidden to let 
their cattle drink the sea water. 

The penalties and punishments for the violation 


of the laws governing the purchase and use of 
this indispensable article were fines, imprison- 
ments, flogging, the galleys, and death. An army 
of officials were employed to see that the salt was 
used for the purposes for which it was bought 
and to arrest smugglers or those persons who 
sold it without authority. The agents had the 
right to enter the houses of even the privileged 
orders to make inspections. 

" Calonne," says Von Hoist, " two years before 
the Revolution, reported that because of the viola- 
tion of the l?ws relating to the gabelle, there had 
been four thousand seizures, three thousand four 
hundred imprisonments, five hundred sentences to 
whipping, exiles, and the galleys, annually." The 
Farmers General, those vampires that purchased 
from the government the exclusive right of col- 
lecting the taxes, were merciless in the prosecution 
of those persons who attempted to avoid payment. 

Smuggling that reduced the returns was pun- 
ished to the full extent of the law, and the sen- 
tences imposed in many instances on women and 
children, as well as on men, were inhuman and 
entirely out of proportion to the offence. 

In Dauphine, smugglers of salt, for the second 
offence, were sent to the galleys for life. Smug- 
glers armed, who assembled in number under five, 
for the second offence, were punished by death. 
Soldiers with arms, smuggling salt, were hanged; 
without arms, were sent to the galleys for life. 

Women smugglers, married and single, for first 
and second offences, were fined ; for third offence, 
were flogged and banished from the kingdom for 


life. Husbands were responsible for their wives, 
and if they made default in payment of the fines, 
were flogged. Children smugglers were punished 
the same as the women. Fathers and mothers were 
responsible for their children, and, failing to pay 
the fines, were flogged. 

This will give some idea of how far tyranny 
can go. The cruel and inhuman punishments were 
inflicted for the commission of offences that were 
nothing more than misdemeanors. These atrocious 
laws were passed only for the purpose of enriching 
the sordid and rapacious Farmers General. Could 
a more inhuman system of taxation and criminal 
procedure be conceived? 

' Tax gathering was nothing but an organized 
warfare. It caused an army of two hundred thou- 
sand drones to oppress the soil. Those locusts 
devoured wasted everything. To drain sub- 
stance out of a people thus devoured it was neces- 
sary to have cruel laws, terrible penalties the 
galleys, gibbets, racks." 

If the peasant succeeded in avoiding the tax 
gatherer, the recruiting officer pressed him into 
military service, dragged him from his friends, 
home, and family to serve a state that was not 
worth serving nor saving. 

The noble officers were proud, insolent, and 
cruel. They looked upon the common soldiers as 
hardly human beings. The former lived in com- 
fortable quarters, the latter were half-fed, badly 
lodged and ill-treated. The military service was 
so odious to the peasants that they often fled into 
the woods, where they were hunted like wild beasts 


until they were captured and impressed into the 

There was no remedy by process of law that gave 
relief to poor suitors. " The administration of 
justice," says Arthur Young, " was partial, venal, 
infamous. They speak of the dispensation of 
justice in the manorial courts as comprising every 
species of despotism, appeals endless, augmenting 
litigation, favoring every species of chicane, ruin- 
ing the parties, not only by enormous expenses 
but by a dreadful loss of time. The judges, 
commonly ignorant pretenders, hold their courts in 
cabarets, and are absolutely dependent on the 
seigneurs." And again he says : " Upon the 
question of expecting justice to be really and fairly 
administered, every one confessed there was no 
such thing to be looked for. The conduct of the 
parliaments was profligate and atrocious. Upon 
almost every cause that came before them, interest 
was openly made with the judges, and woe be- 
tided the man, who, with a cause to support, had 
no means of conciliating favor, either by the beauty 
of a handsome wife or by other methods." 

No government in the history of the world was 
ever more oppressive and corrupt than that of 
France. No people ever bore heavier burdens and 
received so little in return. The exactions were 
cruel, heartless, and rapacious ; the people had but 
few rights and the state acted as if she owed them 
no duty. If she did owe a duty, she surely never 
paid it. 

There seemed to be no reciprocal relations be- 
tween the state and the peasants. The latter were 


mere beasts of burden whose toil and labor main- 
tained the pomp and splendor of the throne, the 
luxury and debauchery of the court. So hard and 
severe was the lot of the peasants that many of 
them abandoned their miserable farms and took 
refuge in Paris and the provincial towns, where 
they lived lives of vagabondage, and, in time, 
helped to compose the mobs that directed the course 
of the Revolution. 

" Under the ancien regime'' says Von Hoist, in 
his most interesting lectures on the French Revolu- 
tion, " the immigrant proletariat from the country 
was by the law barred out from all ways of earning 
a livelihood, except as common day laborers, and 
the wages of these were, in 1788, on an average 
twenty-six cents for men and fifteen for women, 
while the price of bread was higher than in our 
times." He further says that "in 1791, long 
before the inauguration of the Reign of Terror, 
there were in Paris, in a population of six hundred 
and fifty thousand, one hundred and eighteen thou- 
sand paupers." 

As early as March, 1790, Bailly, at that time 
Mayor of Paris, told the National Assembly that 
" for six months the people of Paris have lived 
only on alms." 

There was no middle agricultural class such as 
was growing in England and adding strength and 
stability to the state. The distinguishing differ- 
ence between the governments of England and 
France was that in the former the king had duties 
and the peasant had rights ; while in the latter the 
king had rights and the peasants had duties. 


There was, however, a class known as peasant 
proprietors. Nobles who had been impoverished 
by extravagance were compelled to dispose of 
portions of their estates and sold them to small 
farmers, but this ownership of land subjected the 
owners to the payment of heavy taxes and to exac- 
tions of every description. 

Another class, known as metayers, paid for the 
use of the land in kind, but they secured only a 
bare subsistence and made a scanty return. Their 
implements were rude, their cattle thin, their crops 
meagre, and their homes mere hovels. 

Mirabeau's father, the old marquis, who was 
somewhat of an authority on this subject of agri- 
culture, wrote : "As practised by our peasants, it is 
a veritable galley slavery ; from their infancy they 
die by thousands and in their youth they try to find 
a place anywhere but where they ought to be." 

Famine often stalked through the land, and 
while the peasants starved, the nobles feasted and 
caroused, making a contrast that was not forgot- 
ten when the tocsin of the Revolution sounded. 

Beggars crowded the roads. Fifteen thousand 
were arrested by the authorities in one year during 
the reign of the great Louis. 

In the towns, the conditions were somewhat bet- 
ter than in the country, but the sale of monopolies 
crippled every branch of commerce and manufac- 
ture and centred trade in the hands of the few. 
Mechanics, too, were subjected to severe and vexa- 
tious restraints upon their industry. The only 
purpose of the government seemed to be to find 
something to tax. 

4 49 


In most of the towns, the municipal expenses 
were greater than the revenues and, consequently, 
everything was falling into decay. Public im- 
provements were out of the question, repairs were 
not made on the highways, and in wet weather 
they were almost impassable. At every town-gate 
tolls were levied upon the necessaries of life ; pro- 
duce was taxed so heavily that the poor were not 
able to pay the price for substantial food. The 
searching and avaricious eyes of the tax officers 
allowed nothing to escape their scrutiny. The 
hated octroi stifled trade and ate up the substance 
of the people until they were reduced to the verge 
of starvation. 

" I sought the stately city of Paris," says the 
hero in Louvet's Faublas, " and I found high and 
squalid tenements, long and ludicrously narrow 
streets, poor wretches everywhere clothed in rags, 
a crowd of well-nigh naked children. I beheld a 
dense population and appalling poverty." 

" In Paris," says Mercier, " the people are weak, 
pallid, diminutive, stunted. The rich and the great 
who possess equipages enjoy the privilege of 
crushing them or of mutilating them in the streets. 
. . . There is no convenience for foot passengers, 
no sidewalks. Hundreds of victims die annually 
under the carriage wheels." 

" People were run over almost every day by the 
fashionable vehicles, it being the habit of the great 
to ride very fast." 

" I saw," writes Arthur Young, " a poor child 
run over and probably killed, and have been myself 
many times blackened with the mud of the ken- 


nels," and then adds : " If young noblemen at 
London were to drive their chaises in streets with- 
out footways, as their brethren do at Paris, they 
would speedily and justly get very well threshed 
or rolled in the kennel." 

The Duke of Bethune, in 1788, driving furiously 
through the narrow streets, ran over and killed a 
child ; the mother, frantic with grief, held the little 
one to her bosom, kissed its cheeks and called aloud 
for it to come back to life; but alas! its spirit 
had been crushed out under the wheels of the ducal 
coach. People gathered around to comfort the 
distracted mother, but the proud duke, looking out 
of the window of his carriage, not even deigning 
to dismount, coolly said : " Send the woman to 
my palace, I will pay her in gold for her loss." 
The driver whipped up the horses, and, no doubt, 
the callous and inhuman nobleman soon forgot the 
accident, or recalled it but as a mere incident in 
the day's events. It was only a woman of the 
people that had suffered, it was only a child of the 
poor that had been killed. 

The nobles looked down upon the people with 
contempt and treated them as if they were not 
worthy the slightest consideration; even a just 
complaint was deemed insolence. It was the in- 
sufferable arrogance, the supreme indifference of 
the nobles that planted the seeds of hatred in the 
hearts of the people. 

Professional beggars crowded the streets and the 
canaille was ever ready for a riot. The public peace 
was preserved and order was maintained by a 
large force of municipal militia. 


In the face of these depressing, menacing, and 
melancholy conditions, the extravagance of the 
court continued and was rapidly exhausting the 
estates of the nobles. To so great an extent was 
this the case that, during the Revolution, when an 
effort was made to pay the creditors of the emi- 
grants out of the proceeds resulting from the sale 
of their possessions, it was found that most of the 
estates were mortgaged almost to their full value. 

It was an expensive luxury to bask in the rays 
of the Sun King, and while Louis was bankrupting 
the state the courtiers were ruining themselves by 
their extravagance. 

But while the nobles were wasting their incomes, 
money-changers, note-shavers, bankers, and finan- 
ciers were growing rich, and many of them, as soon 
as they amassed wealth, had the mean ambition to 
become ennobled, and they paid large sums for an 
office to secure a title. 

Like all upstarts, vain and contemptible, they 
looked down on the common people. They were 
ashamed of their humble birth and turned their 
backs on their old friends. They were willing to 
be tolerated by the nobility, and they fawned and 
flattered to secure the slightest sign of recognition 
from the old noblesse. They formed a class that 
added neither dignity to itself nor strength to the 
state. They schemed to secure advantageous alli- 
ances for their daughters by marrying them to the 
sons of needy nobles, who, in turn, drained the 
purses of their fathers-in-law to pay for their 
amusements at the gaming tables and in places of 
evil resort. The husband gave a title to his wife 


in consideration of the payment of a sum of money 
as great as the father of the wife was willing to 
give for the empty honor. It was a marriage in 
that it had the sanction of law, but it was without 
the sentiment of the heart. It was the trading of 
a daughter for a title, a custom that has not yet 
grown stale. 

The old noblesse held aloof from these par- 
venues unless they were compelled by stress of 
financial want to borrow money or to form an 
alliance by selling a son. " The noblesse," says 
De Tocqueville, " is become a caste whose distinct 
mark is birth," and they looked down upon these 
" roturiers" of vulgar and plebeian blood with 

The new nobility, however, built splendid pal- 
aces, lived luxuriously, painted their escutcheons 
or their newly acquired family crests in flaming 
colors on the panels of their coaches, and occa- 
sionally entertained at a most sumptuous dinner 
a stray or needy nobleman with an ancient name, 
which fact was duly announced next day in the 
society columns of the papers. 

They practised the vices, assumed the preten- 
sions, and aped the manners of their models. 

Amidst all these conditions there was not a 
strong, a patriotic, an intelligent middle class that 
stood for constitutional rights, that proudly and 
willingly bore the responsibilities of citizenship and 
that, when the crisis came, exerted a wholesome 
influence in protecting the interests of the state 
and in maintaining the public peace and liberty 
against violence and anarchy. 


The bourgeoisie was seeking distinctions and 
was drawing away from the proletariat. During 
the Revolution, after the nobility was overthrown, 
the rabble turned on the bourgeoisie as if it were a 
public enemy. 





THE French monarchy reached the culmination 
of its power and glory in the reign of Louis XIV. 
and from this period we may trace the immediate 
causes of the Revolution, for in this reign, espe- 
cially towards its close, we find increased and 
intensified all the vices and extravagance of the 
past, together with a depleted treasury, disordered 
finances, and a state hastening to bankruptcy. 

The court at Versailles was the most magnifi- 
cent in Europe. The king was the source of all 
light and power. He was the central orb in this 
planetary system and the great men of the realm 
revolved about and around him as mere satellites. 
No potentate ever sat on a throne who received 
more reverence. Time was consumed in subser- 
vient, ceremonial adulation, in paying devotion to 
a Christian king with greater pomp than was ever 
witnessed in the most luxurious court of the Orient. 
Churchmen, statesmen, philosophers, men of letters, 
generals of unrivalled skill, vied with each other 
in paying obsequious, sycophantic homage, until 
personal dignity and independence were lost in a 
silly theatrical devotion to a painted king. 

" Sire, the rain of Versailles does not make wet," 


said a simpering courtier, when the king gave him 
permission to cover in a shower, and the monarch 
was greatly pleased. He, no doubt, thought the 
bon mot was worth a pension. Even the great 
Racine, in a spirit of fulsome flattery, declared that 
the greatest incentive to perfect the French tongue 
was that it might express praises worthy so wise 
and so good a man as Louis XIV. Flunkeyism 
was the fashion of the day, flattery was the pass- 
port to the king's favor. 

An irksome, oppressive etiquette was the only 
occupation of the court. The daily life of Louis, 
from the hour of rising to that of retiring, was a 
public spectacle. In reading his life, we wonder 
when he found time to study or think or give atten- 
tion to the affairs of state. He seems never to have 
had a chance to enjoy seclusion or privacy. An 
Austrian ambassador, in referring to him, wrote: 
" So constantly was he on the go, his time taken 
up in following a course of amusements, that his 
mode of living left him not an hour in the day for 
attention to important matters." 

No one could have sustained the strain and the 
monotony of such a life unless he had a good di- 
gestion, a sound constitution, and a love for adula- 
tion and flattery, as well as an utter indifference to 
the public welfare. 

When someone described to Frederick II. the 
etiquette and ceremony of the French Court, he said 
if he were monarch of France, his first edict would 
be to name a substitute who would hold court in 
his stead. 

The king's religious devotions, his morning 


ablutions and toilet were made daily in the gaze 
of the public. " All Versailles," says Macaulay, 
" came to see Louis dine and sup. He was put to 
bed at night in the midst of a crowd as great as 
that which had met to see him rise in the morning. 
He took his very emetics in state and vomited 
majestically in the presence of all the grandes and 
petites entrees." 

Taine, in his " Ancien Regime," has fully de- 
scribed the making of the king's morning toilet, 
a daily task, too, let the reader bear in mind. It 
was not an occasional exhibition. It was a time- 
honored, well-observed Bourbon custom, for even 
up to the reign of Louis XVI. a page remarked : 
" Every evening for six years I have seen the king 
get into bed in public. It was not omitted ten 
times to my knowledge, and then accidentally 
or through indisposition." 

At an hour that was made known in advance, 
the first valet of the bed-chamber awoke his ma- 
jesty, the king. Five grades, or classes, of privi- 
leged persons entered the chamber, one class after 
the other, in orderly succession and at prescribed 
intervals, and although the waiting-rooms were 
large and commodious, there were days when they 
could hardly hold the crowd of courtiers in at- 

The first class to enter consisted of the king's 
children, the princes and the princesses of the blood, 
the chief doctors, the principal surgeon, and other 
useful persons. Then followed in turn what was 
called the " grande entree," which included the 
great chamberlain, the grand master, the master of 


the robes, the first gentleman of the bed-chamber, 
the Dukes of Orleans and Penthievre, the latter a 
natural son of the king, some specially favored 
lords, ladies of honor of the queen's bed-chamber, 
with a host of barbers, tailors, and valets. 

Wine is then poured on the hands of the king. 
A bowl of holy water is presented, he makes the 
sign of the cross, and says his prayers. In the pres- 
ence of this crowd of courtiers and flunkeys, he gets 
out of bed and puts on his socks, a most common- 
place performance, but with the king it is a matter 
of grace, every movement governed and guided 
by the strictest rules of etiquette. The chamberlain 
and the first gentleman of the bed-chamber, im- 
portant personages, too, present to the king his 
robe de chambre. He slips it on and then gravely 
takes a seat on a chair at the side of his bed. At 
this moment the door is opened and the " brevets' 1 
enter, while at the same time arrive a squad of 
serving men, doctors and surgeons in ordinary, 
" intendants des menus-plaisirs," and a number of 
other persons of less consequence. When the offi- 
cers of the robe approach the king to dress him, 
the first gentleman of the bed-chamber announces 
the names of the grandees who wait at the door. 
This is the fourth entree called " de la chambre," 
greater in number than all the preceding entrees, 
for now arrive the grand almoner, the master of 
the chapel, the master of the oratory, the captain 
and the major of the "garde du corps," officers of 
the French guard, colonel of the regiment of the 
king, masters of ceremony, foreign ambassadors, 
ministers of state, marshals of France and a host of 


attendants. Tipstaffs command silence and the 
crowd stands in reverential awe, for the king is 
about to wash his hands. Two pages put on his 
slippers and the grand master and the first valet 
of the robe draw off his majesty's robe de nuit, 
which they hand to an officer, while a valet carries 
the king's shirt in a surtout of white taffeta. At 
this point, the fifth entree is announced and another 
crowd flocks into the bed-chamber and, when 
silence is restored, the king prepares to put on his 
shirt. The honor of presenting this garment is 
reserved to his sons and grandsons, or, in their 
absence, to princes of the blood royal. Three valets 
of important station slip it on the body of the 
king, while two valets hold the king's robe de 
chambre before him as a screen or curtain. 

Now begin the final touches. A mirror is 
brought and tapers illumine the scene. The grand 
master passes to the king his vest and coat, the 
latter adorned with the cordon bleu. A sword 
is fastened at his side. A valet brings a basket 
filled with cravats, a selection is solemnly made, 
and the master of the gard robe fastens it around 
his majesty's neck. A salver is then presented 
upon which are three dainty lace handkerchiefs 
and the king makes choice of one. At last the 
master of the robe hands him his hat, his gloves, 
and his cane, and the toilet is completed. The king 
kneels on a cushion and says his prayers while an 
almoner in a low voice pronounces the " Oraison," 
" Quse-sumus deus omnipotens." Such is the daily 
morning rising of the sun king. 

The queen goes through a like ceremony in her 


own bed-chamber. Madame Campan, in her inter- 
esting memoirs, describes Marie Antoinette as Im- 
patiently waiting on a winter's morning while the 
infinite details of etiquette occupied a number of 
ladies of high degree, who slowly and solemnly 
handed the royal chemise from one to another, in 
the order of rank, until at last it covered the 
shivering body of the queen, who angrily ex- 
claimed : " What importunity !" 

We have given a description of this remarkable 
ceremony of the king's " lever" without attempting 
to follow it in all its details as described by Taine. 

Louis the Great must have been a man of ex- 
ceptional qualities to have played this farce with- 
out loss of dignity. There is a serio-comic side 
to all this opera-bouffe performance which in this 
practical age provokes a smile of derision, even 
contempt, and yet Louis, constantly in the public 
eye, engaged in all sorts of ceremonies, always 
retained the reverence of his court and of his people. 
He had the faculty of doing small things well. His 
walk, his strut, his postures, if we may believe his 
contemporaries, were most impressive. The writers 
of that period even refer to his stature as majestic, 
and yet, in truth, he was below rather than above 
the medium size. Chateaubriand, commenting on 
this subject, says he was not tall. " A cuirass of 
his which remains to us, as well as the exhumations 
at St. Deny's, leaves us in no doubt on this point." 
And yet this king, five feet eight inches in height, 
stalking and strutting on high heels, created such 
an illusion, that, in the eyes of his worshippers, he 
had the majestic stature of a giant. He had the 

From an old engraving 


art of making little things look great. Perhaps this 
is a useful talent, for he played his part with con- 
summate skill and success and produced the effect 
desired. If he had only endeavored to be what he 
desired to appear, he would have been a great king 
in the broadest sense. " He was little in every- 
thing but the art of simulating greatness." 

How useless, how frivolous, all this ceremony 
seems ! What a waste of time and effort ! It was 
a daily rehearsal, a brilliant mise en scene in which 
the king played the leading role. 

In the East, the monarch conceals himself as 
much as possible from the eyes of the vulgar; he 
keeps aloof from the public and appears only on 
feast and holy days, believing that, familiarity not 
only breeds contempt, but robs him of that rever- 
ence and awe which his sacred person should always 
inspire in the hearts of his loyal subjects; but 
Louis was not controlled by any such ideas. He 
lived always in the public gaze. No monarch ever 
filled a larger space in the world's eye, and yet he 
was not a general, nor a statesman, nor a man of 
letters; he was nothing but a theatrical king. In 
the language of Bolingbroke : " He was the best 
actor of majesty that ever filled a throne." " There 
never was," says Macaulay, " so consummate a 
master of what our James the First would have 
called kingcraft, of all those arts which most ad- 
vantageously display the merits of a prince and 
most completely hide his defects." 

He stood neither for political liberty nor ad- 
vanced civilization. His supreme egotism centred 
in himself all the power and glory of the state. 


His policies were selfish, his principles despotic. 
His absolutism had been created and strengthened 
by the genius of Richelieu and Mazarin in the prior 
reign, but in his over-weening vanity and egotism, 
it is questionable whether or not it ever occurred to 
him that he was under any obligations to them. 

When he assumed absolute control of the king- 
dom, he summoned his minister and addressed him 
thus: " Sir: It has pleased me hitherto to permit 
my affairs to be governed by the late cardinal; I 
will in future be my own prime minister and you 
shall aid me with your counsels when I ask you for 
them." His chancellor was to seal no decree except 
by his orders, and his secretaries of state and 
superintendent of finance were to sign nothing 
without his command. He looked upon the king- 
dom as his own, he was the state. He regarded 
France as his private, personal property. He in- 
herited it from his ancestors as a man would a 
farm stocked with horses and sheep and cattle. 

He built palaces, squandered gold on his mis- 
tresses, and showered honors on his favorites. If a 
friendly nobleman was in debt, he directed a pen- 
sion, and all this extravagance was paid for out of 
money raised under the most unjust and pernicious 
system of taxation the world has ever known. 

" L'etat c'est moi," says Michelet, " was but the 
simple enunciation of a fact." It was not a mere 
phrase, but the actual truth when uttered by Louis. 
All authority centred in him. " O, kings," cried 
the Bishop of Meaux, in his enthusiastic loyalty, 
" exercise your power boldly, for it is divine ye 
are gods !" Even the great Bossuet, in the presence 


of Louis XIV. and all his court, preached that 
" kings were divine, were as gods on earth." Roy- 
alty and loyalty run mad. 

The Duke de Villeroi, addressing Louis XV. 
while he was yet a child, said : " See, my master, 
this great kingdom, Oh ! well, all this is for you, all 
this belongs to you, you are the master." A whole- 
some idea to instil into the heart and mind of a 
child destined to rule a nation. The boy was im- 
pressed by the teachings, for, in after years, when 
on the throne, he addressed the following remarka- 
ble language to the Parliament of Paris : " The 
sovereign authority is vested in my person ; legisla- 
tive power, without dependence and without divi- 
sion, exists in me alone, public security emanates 
wholly from me, I am its supreme custodian." 
Strange as this appears to us, it was the truth, the 
king was but stating a fact. The wish of the king 
was the law of the land. " Le roi le veut" had the 
force of a statute. " Car tel est mon plaisir" was 
a sufficient reason or excuse for an act of tyranny. 

There were no constitutional barriers that pro- 
tected the people from his despotic absolutism; he 
could imprison his subjects by lettres de cachet, he 
could banish them by lettres d'exil, he could silence 
Parliament by a lit de justice, he could confiscate 
private property and tax almost without restraint. 

Quesnay, physician to Louis XV., once remarked 
to Madame du Hausset, a witty and celebrated 
femme de chambre: " Whenever I see the king, I 
say to myself, ' There is a man who can cut my 
head off.' ' Oh !' said she, ' the king is too good.' " 
" The lady's maid," says Michelet, " summed up in 


one word the guarantees of the monarchy. The 
king was too good to cut his head off ; that was no 
longer agreeable to custom. But he could, with 
one word, send him to the Bastile and there forget 

In spiritual as well as in temporal matters, he ex- 
ercised his unrestricted authority, and yet a distin- 
guished French historian has said that " Louis was 
more arbitrary than despotic, for he did not exer- 
cise all the power he possessed." 

War, pomp, glittering pageants, favorites and 
mistresses ate up the substance of the state. The 
king's concubines made draughts upon the public 
treasury, enriched favorites, pensioned pimps, dis- 
pensed the honors of the kingdom, appointed and 
dismissed ministers, elevated churchmen, promoted 
officers in the army, exiled and imprisoned personal 
enemies and coolly banished the queen to the quiet- 
ude of the domestic circle. From the days of Diana 
of Poitiers to the Du Barry, the king's favorite 
mistress was supreme. The proudest men in the 
realm followed meekly in her train, and stood like 
suppliants at the door of her chamber, for this 
was the main avenue to the favor of the king. 

There were few monarch s among the Bourbons 
more completely under the influence of their mis- 
tresses than Louis XIV., notwithstanding his 
exalted opinion of his own self-importance. He 
was absolutely under petticoat rule, and was most 
contemptible in his subserviency to it, even forget- 
ting the respect due to his queen in public. He did 
not have the first instincts of the gentleman, for he 
paid court to his concubines in the presence of his 


wife, even upon public occasions. When he went 
to the wars in Flanders he travelled with two mis- 
tresses and his wife in the same carriage, the pa- 
tient, gentle queen, Maria Theresa, submitting to 
the outrage no doubt because she had been taught 
that her royal spouse the king could do no wrong. 
Poor woman, she suffered without complaint this 
shame and humiliation because she had been 
brought up under the iniquitous system of govern- 
ment which teaches that God and the king rule 
jointly, and that loyalty to one means devotion to 
the other. She was taught to believe that the con- 
duct of the king is not the subject of criticism any 
more than are the decrees of Providence. 

The harem of Louis was always well stocked. 
Marie di Mancini, La Valliere, Madame de Monte- 
span, succeeded each other in his royal affection. 
The last one indulged in such extravagance and 
licentiousness that her conduct actually shocked the 
moral sentiment even of France. The open and di- 
rect censures of the great Bossuet fell upon her ears 
without having the slightest effect. She bore the 
king seven bastards, and was housed in the royal 
palace during her confinements as if she were the 
lawful queen of the realm. Her children were 
legitimized by the king, made princes of the blood, 
and enriched at the public expense. 

Madame de Maintenon, another mistress, was 
one of the most remarkable women of her day. 
She obtained a complete ascendency over her royal 
lover. He advised with her on the most important 
affairs of state and was in the habit of addressing 
her as " Madame Solidite" Her society is de- 
65 5 


scribed by Madame de Sevigne as " truly deli- 
cious." It must be said to her credit that her in- 
fluence over the king was, in some ways, beneficial 
to France, and in this particular she was an excep- 
tion, and rose somewhat above the women of her 
class. It is believed that she was married to the 
king secretly. She was born a Protestant, but hav- 
ing renounced her faith, she became, after her apos- 
tasy, one of the most intolerant bigots of that most 
intolerant reign. 

Every time Louis XIV. made war, it was out of 
pique, in the interest of his family, for mere per- 
sonal glory, or out of consideration for a woman. 
He consumed the revenues of the state in warlike 
enterprises, and a million men were sacrificed to 
his vainglorious ambition. His attempted con- 
quest of the Low Countries was without reason or 
excuse. The courageous and simple-hearted Dutch 
had offered no provocation. The war was under- 
taken in defiance of every principle of justice and 
humanity and in contravention of every principle of 
international law. 

Under the old feudal system, heavy as it was, the 
nobles bravely and honorably, in council and in the 
field, served the king; now they simply formed a 
class to wait upon his majesty and to add color and 
beauty to the court. They possessed all the graces 
and refinements of polite society, but they lacked 
every quality that fitted them to serve the real in- 
terests of the state. 

The old barons, brave, valorous, chivalrous, 
trained to war, furnished soldiers for the king's 
service. Now the king, to maintain the dignity and 


splendor of his court, must have his personal guard 
of infantry and cavalry, consisting of nine thou- 
sand and fifty men, costing each year for their 
maintenance seven million six hundred and eighty- 
one thousand livres. 

He had a dozen residences besides his palace at 
Versailles and all were maintained in the most lux- 
urious manner. There were four thousand persons 
for the king's civil household. He had one thou- 
sand eight hundred and fifty-seven horses for his 
own use and two hundred and seventeen vehicles. 
He clothed in livery at a cost of five hundred and 
forty thousand livres, annually, one thousand four 
hundred and fifty-eight servants and lackeys; and 
all this extravagance was paid for by the people, 
many of whom had hardly the bare necessaries of 

His stables and kennels were most luxuriously 
appointed. While the wintry blasts howled through 
and around the dilapidated huts of his poor sub- 
jects, his hounds and horses were well fed, well 
housed, and well groomed. A dog of the royal 
kennels received more consideration and far better 
fare than a peasant. 

Balls, banquets, receptions, operas, occupied the 
time of the king and his legion of courtiers. It 
was a constant round of pleasure, with no time to 
be spared for the consideration of important state 
matters. " When society becomes so attractive, 
people live for it alone." 

The artificiality of a social life such as we have 
described weakens the intellect of those who devote 
their lives to its purposes, and who breathe and live 


in its tainted, poisonous atmosphere. It robs men 
of their independence and saps the virtue of women. 
It creates a class of flunkeys, toadies, and silken 
courtiers who, living in this constant whirl and 
glare, look upon all people outside of their exclusive 
circle as of little consequence. Those who live 
under these conditions develop the meanest qualities 
of heart and soul, and they become both slaves and 
tyrants ; slaves to the king and tyrants to the peo- 
ple. It is invariably the case that the men who are 
the most subservient in disposition make the most 
despotic masters. 

'' The court was the sepulchre of the nation" ; 
in it were buried all the honor, independence, pub- 
lic spirit, and civic responsibility of the nobles, as 
well as the rights and the liberties of the people. In 
the face of all the grandeur and display of the court, 
the country was hastening to destruction. The body 
politic was in a morbid state, it had the hectic 
flush that gave color to the features, but which 
really -was the sign of disease, of consuming fever. 

The financial condition was alarming, and the 
misery of the people increased from day to day. 
Appeals were made to the King and his ministers 
for relief, but as the nobles and the clergy would 
not surrender their privileges nor moderate and 
temper their exactions, nothing could be done to 
ameliorate the distressing condition of the people. 
" Men ate grass like sheep and died like so many 

What is more touching than the appeal addressed 
to the king by the villagers of Champagne : " Sire, 
the only command we hear from you is for money. 


We did hope that this would end, but every year the 
demand is for more. We do not hold you respon- 
sible for this, because we love you, but those whom 
you employ. They know better how to look after 
their own affairs than yours. We believed that 
they deceived you, and we said in our chagrin : If 
our good king only knew this. We are burdened 
with taxes of every kind. To you we have given, 
up to the present time, a part of our bread, and if 
this continues we shall be in want. If you could 
see the poor huts in which we live, the poor food 
that we eat, your heart would be touched. . . . 
That which grieves us is, that those who have the 
most pay the least. We pay the tallies, but the 
ecclesiastics and the nobles, who own the best land, 
pay nothing. Why is it that those who are rich 
pay the least and those who are poor pay the 

The complaint goes on to state that the peasants 
would plant their vines on the sunny slopes, were 
it not that they are so persecuted by the excisemen 
that they would rather pull up the vines already 
growing than plant new ones. " The wine we 
would make would go to them, scarcely any of it 
to us. Sire : we would demand much more, but 
you cannot do all at once." 

Still no relief came, and the court in no jot or 
tittle abated its extravagance. Does it not seem 
strange that so tender an appeal would not find a 
response in the heart and sympathy of any ruler, 
even though he were a Louis? 

But the days of this monarch were fast draw- 
ing to a close. Ceremonial had become a habit, 


and he played his part to the last. His appetite 
for power increased with his years, and his love 
for pomp and splendor never left him. He lived 
beyond his time and became a miserable old man, 
lingering on the scene long after death ought to 
have claimed him, reluctant to surrender the 
power he had so coveted and the splendor he 
had so fostered. He had to be amused and flat- 
tered to the last, and so the courtiers played on 
the credulity and the vanity of the decrepit old 
king by presenting to him sham embassies repre- 
sented as coming from foreign states. Only a few 
days before his death, seated upon his throne, his 
weak, emaciated body burdened with his royal 
robes, he received with great solemnity an embassy 
made up of his own courtiers disguised as Persian 
ambassadors. It was his last great reception before 
he himself appeared at the foot of the throne of the 
King of kings. 

After all his glory, he was borne to the grave in 
a manner that was in sad contrast to the splendor 
of his prior estate. The ceremony was pompous 
enough, but it was without regret and tears and 
reverence. It was indeed a sorry affair, and the 
people hissed and threw stones at the hearse on its 
way to the tomb. 

He left France almost impoverished, over- 
whelmed with debt, with her credit destroyed, her 
maritime power prostrate, and poverty and famine 
stalking through the land in every direction. All 
this was the result of his pride, ambition and ex- 

" The government of Louis XIV. was a great, a 


powerful fact," writes Guizot, " but it was built 
upon sand." The results of his rule were but the 
inevitable effects of the inherent, the incorrigible 
vices of absolute power. In the language of Mig- 
net, " Louis XIV. wore out the main-spring of ab- 
solute monarchy by too protracted tension and too 
violent use." 

His reign had been made most brilliant by sol- 
diers, statesmen, orators, and men of letters. The 
literature was affected by the theatrical character 
of the age. The oratory was most florid in style. 
The drama especially was stilted, and lacked that 
natural simplicity which is the characteristic feature 
of the English school. The characters of Racine 
do not talk nor converse, they declaim. It is im- 
possible to believe that they could have an exist- 
ence anywhere but on the stage. 

Corneille, Racine, Moliere, Fenelon, Bossuet, 
Flechier, Massillon, Boileau, Pascal, Conde, Tu- 
renne, Luxembourg, Colbert, and Luvois marked 
the era as the golden age of France. But all this 
fame and glory covered a state that was unstable 
and corrupt at heart. The glory was but the mask 
covering the hideous features of disease. 



Louis XV. was a misery, a calamity, to his coun- 
try. He began his reign with the title of the " Well 
Beloved," a title with which he soon parted. 

Since the days of the most debauched of the 
Caesars, profligacy had never been conducted in so 
open a manner. The boudoirs of his mistresses 
were the council chambers of the state. France 
was a government of harlots. The king spent 
much of his time dawdling with his courtesans in 
the safely guarded and scandalous precincts of the 
" Pare aux Cerfs" or else in that famous, or rather 
infamous, room at Petit Trianon, where his com- 
panions, men and women, debauched and lost to 
every sense of shame, sat at the tables as naked as 
when they were born. Wines and viands were 
served on dumb-waiters, lest the presence of ser- 
vants should interfere with their lustful pleasures. 
The prostitutes who joined with the " Lord's 
Anointed" in his revels were not women of the 
town, but ladies of the court of noble and titled lin- 
eage. The whole social system of the higher classes 
was honey-combed with vice and sensuality. The 
nobles were openly, scandalously immoral in their 
lives and they did not pay to virtue even the tribute 
of hypocrisy. There was no attempt made to con- 
ceal their immoralities, decency was mocked, ridi- 
culed, upbraided. 



Louis was a libertine, bestial in his appetites. He 
cared only for his pleasures, and they were such as 
would have disgraced a Nero, a Heliogabalus. He 
was cold, heartless, cynical, indifferent, a mere vo- 
luptuary, who centred his confidence and affection 
in nobody. That merry rogue, Charles II. of Eng- 
land, who resembled him in many ways, redeemed 
in a measure his character when, in his last mo- 
ments, he begged those about his death-bed not to 
let poor Nell starve. Louis had no emotions so gen- 
erous in his low, mean soul. His mistresses who 
appealed to his passions never aroused the affections 
of his heart; he seemed to have no generous im- 

Patriotism was, with him, not even a sentiment. 
" After me, the deluge," reveals the character of the 
man. The future of his country gave him no anx- 
ious concern. " The kingdom will last as long as I 
do," was to him a complacent and satisfying 

His extravagance, notwithstanding a depleted 
public treasury, and in the face of a starving peas- 
antry, showed an utter disregard of the instincts of 
humanity. And worse than all, he speculated in 
grain while grim famine was stalking through his 

According to Argenson, he had in his stables, in 
the year 1751, four thousand horses, and his person 
and palace cost that year sixty-eight million francs, 
almost one-fourth of the public revenue. 

The Pompadour, daughter of an exiled roue, and 
the Du Barry, natural child of Anne Bequs, both 
from the common people, were installed at Ver- 


sailles as the mistresses of the king, and he offended 
the old order by breaking down the barrier of 

With these haughty nobles it was not a question 
of morals but of blood. No one objected to the 
king's installing his mistresses in the royal house- 
hold, but they should, under all considerations and 
from motives of decency and propriety, be taken 
from the ranks of the nobility and not from the 
bourgeoisie or the Third Estate. There was no spe- 
cial objection to a noble woman selling her virtue 
to the king, but to elevate one of the daughters of 
the common people to the exalted position of royal 
mistress was out of all reason. How base, how 
ignoble must that society have been in which the 
nobility considered it an honor for the king to de- 
bauch their daughters ! In one case the king raised 
in succession, one after the other, all the daughters 
of an ancient and distinguished family to the sta- 
tion of royal favorite. 

During the Revolution, many years after the 
ancient regime had passed away, the story goes 
that upon one occasion the Du Barry, mistress of 
Louis XV., met one of the old-time court ladies 
and, in the course of a conversation, she said to 
her : " How you all must have hated me." " Oh, 
no/' was the reply ; " we did not hate, we envied 

At this period the successful men of the middle 
class who had acquired wealth were gradually 
coming to the front, and they began to mingle with 
the nobility. As the wealth of the latter dimin- 
ished, the importance of the former increased. 

After a painting by L. M. Vanloo 


Having in many instances accumulated enormous 
wealth, they built magnificent palaces, entertained 
lavishly and sumptuously, and patronized artists 
and men of letters. They had all the qualities of no- 
blemen, except the distinction of birth, and when 
mingling in aristocratic circles they conversed upon 
every subject but that of ancestry. They carefully 
avoided all reference to the past, for fear they 
might run against an honest publican or a humble 
shoemaker, and this taint in the blood or lineage 
would have been a blot on the 'scutcheon. There 
were very few among them who were " neither 
ashamed of their origin nor vain of their eleva- 

There was another class of men that, at this 
time, was exerting a great influence among the 
people and helping materially to mould public opin- 
ion. The lawyers were, as a rule, fairly well edu- 
cated, and in this respect were superior to all but the 
highest classes and the men of letters. They were 
students, orators, and writers, and representing the 
people, in the defense of their rights, they had every 
opportunity to become familiar with the miseries 
of the poor and the unjust exactions of the state. 
They were disciples of the new philosophy. In 
religion, they were liberal in their views, and in 
politics, as a rule, they were ardent republicans. 
They were of humble birth and, consequently, ex- 
cluded from the society of the privileged classes. 
As men of intelligence and spirit, they smarted 
under the insolence of the nobles and chafed under 
the social and political distinctions that were so 
severely and unjustly drawn. They were fully in- 


formed on current matters and events, kept abreast 
of the times, and led the way to the coming Revolu- 
tion, in which, when it arrived, they took a most 
prominent and influential part. 

The subtle influence of the writings of philoso- 
phers and free-thinkers was sapping the religious 
faith of the people. The coarse materialism of Hel- 
vetius, the sneers and satirical sallies of Voltaire, 
the cant and sentimental rhapsodies of Rousseau, 
the atheistical doctrines and the wild, fierce democ- 
racy of Diderot, were undermining the foundations 
of both church and state. 

Michelet calls Voltaire and Rousseau the two 
apostles of humanity, and further adds, " When 
these two men have passed, the Revolution is ac- 
complished in the intellectual world. Now it 
becomes the duty of their sons, legitimate and 
illegitimate, to expound and diffuse it in a hun- 
dred ways. . . . Mirabeau, Beaumarchais, Ray- 
nal, Mably and Sieyes are now to do their work." 

Even the courtiers, affected by the spirit and the 
temper of the times, aided unconsciously in the 
diffusion of the ideas of popular rights. With 
them it was a mere fashion to espouse the liberal 
cause, but a most dangerous one for themselves, in 
view of existing conditions. On the other hand, 
churchmen affected a cynical and sceptical spirit 
and smiled at the credulity of the people who ac- 
cepted with implicit faith the doctrines of the 
church. " A simple priest, a parson, must believe 
something or he would be considered a hypocrite, 
but at the ? ime time he must not be quite sure of 
what he believed or else he would be considered 


intolerant. A grand-vicar may, however, smile a 
little over a sally against religion, a bishop laugh 
quite openly, and a cardinal even add, himself, 
some taunt." 

Everything was a-ripening for the harvest. 

Louis XV., stricken by a loathsome, contagious, 
and fatal disease, died in an upper chamber of the 
palace, abandoned to his fate and deserted by those 
time-serving creatures who had lived on his favors 
and fattened on his bounty. At a safe distance they 
watched for the appearance of the lighted candle in 
the window that was to be the signal announcing 
the moment of his death, and when it appeared, 
the palace immediately resounded with the shouts 
of the courtiers hailing the new king. 

The remains of the dead monarch were uncere- 
moniously huddled into a grave by his immuned 
attendants, a fitting end to so contemptible a 

It is said that when Louis XV. was dying he 
exclaimed : "I feel the torments of the damned." 
His attendant replied : " Not yet, sire." It was a 
little early, but really not much too soon. 

The people welcomed Louis XVI. when he came 
to the throne just as noisily and eagerly as they 
had welcomed Louis XV. They let one die in his 
bed, the other they butchered on the scaffold. The 
grandson had to suffer for the sins of his grandsire. 

" What a glorious time!" said Talleyrand, refer- 
ring to the coronation of Louis XVI., " a young 
king scrupulously moral and uncommonly modest, 
ministers well known for their ability and upright- 
ness, a queen whose affableness, grace and kindness 


tempered the austere virtues of her consort ; every- 
body filled with respect, the heart of every subject 
overflowing with affection for the young sover- 
eigns; joy was everywhere. Never did so bright 
a spring precede so stormy an autumn, a winter so 
dismal." In the sky of France was the bow of 
promise, but the clouds soon gathered and the tem- 
pest broke. 

It was on May n, 1774, that Louis XVI. as- 
cended the throne. A person more unsuited to 
meet and cope with the conditions could hardly 
have been found in the kingdom. He was amiable 
and virtuous, qualities in this instance that were of 
no practical use, for he was without genius, ability, 
or capacity, and yet when we survey the king- 
dom and consider the prevailing conditions, it is 
a question whether or not the strongest man could 
have done more than delay the coming of the Revo- 

Louis was a well-meaning prince, fairly decent 
in his conduct, and utterly incapable in his rule. In 
a court of vice and immorality he was an example 
of probity and chastity, but he was just the sort 
of prince whose weakness and vacillation, in those 
stirring times, gave impetus and strength to the 
motives of revolution. 

When an effort was made in his reign to amel- 
iorate the misery and the sufferings of the poor, 
to effect financial economy in the administration of 
the government, it only intensified the hatred of 
the oppressed. The feeble attempt to relieve only 
revealed the weakness and the incapacity of the 
state, and its inability to accomplish the needed re- 


forms. " Comment on souleva le peuple en voulant 
le soulager." 

"What do you suppose that carriage cost me?'* 
inquired Louis XV. of Choiseul. " About six thou- 
sand livres, Sire." " It cost me thirty thousand," 
replied the king. ' Then it is robbery and we must 
have an investigation." " No, no, no," cried Louis, 
in alarm, " let it be, let it be. We must have no re- 
forms. There are too many people interested in 
keeping things as they are." 

This king knew the danger in innovation; he 
was suggesting no changes nor reforms. He 
was only anxious not to have his saturnalia dis- 

Louis was right; he understood that the state, 
rotten as it was, would not be able to stand any 
repairs. " However rotten a house may be," writes 
Von Hoist, " it stands astonishingly long, if it but 
be left to itself. In a certain stage of decay, its 
power of resistance is increased by its being equally 
rotten in all its parts. Finally it must fall in any 
case, but the catastrophe is hastened on by tearing 
down a part here and there and rebuilding it with 
new and sound material. The rotten rest is not 
capable of sustaining the weight of the new pieces. 
Just because the new is sound, it causes the old to 
break down sooner than it otherwise would have 

The whole system was so rotten that it required 
complete demolition before it could be restored. A 
mere patching here and there, as Von Hoist so 
wisely states, would have only weakened the struc- 
ture and hastened its fall. It would have revealed 


the weakness of the whole system and the necessity 
for a complete restoration. 

In the year 1780, during the reign of Louis 
XVI., there was an effort made to reduce the ex- 
penditures of the court. It was called " the reform 
of the mouth," and yet, under the reduction, the 
three old spinster aunts of Louis XVI. received 
annually six hundred thousand livres for their table 
expenses, the queen four million livres, and the 
king's two brothers eight million three hundred 
thousand. Is it any wonder that Lazarus was lying 
at the door of the rich ? A further reduction was 
made in the king's household expenses in 1788; 
but the reduction was so slight that it seemed ridic- 
ulous to call it a reform. 

These feeble attempts to economize in no way 
prevented the growth of the annual deficit. 

Louis XV. had exhausted the public revenues in 
frivolous and extravagant living, and relief could 
be had only under a system of rigid and genuine 
retrenchment. The reign of Louis XVI. was wel- 
comed because it was thought the reforms he would 
inaugurate would relieve the financial distress. 
His character was taken as a guarantee against the 
continuance of the abuses and the extravagance of 
the prior reign. But Louis had no just conception 
of what was required. 

For some years commerce and manufactures 
had been improving. The government receipts had 
been increasing. In other words, conditions were 
not any worse than they had been, and in many re- 
spects they were somewhat better. In spite of 
Bourbonism, feudal burdens, unjust restrictions on 


trade and commerce, the wealth of the country had 
been actually increasing. Taine is of the opinion 
that " the aristocracy was never so worthy of 
power as at the moment it was going to lose it." 
But it was too late to save the ancient regime. The 
people had no faith in those who had so long 
squandered the public moneys and burdened the 
state with abuses. 

France needed a strong man at the helm, one in 
whom the people had confidence. Revolution was 
impending, was inevitable; the distresses had to 
be relieved, real economy in the administration 
of the government practised, class distinctions, 
exemptions and privileges abolished, a system of 
equal and just taxation adopted, the refunding of 
the public debt at a lower rate of interest effected, 
and the rights of the people secured by constitu- 
tional forms. But all these changes might have 
been accomplished without the terror, blood, and 
factional strife that marked the Revolution's devas- 
tating course. 

The king, the nobles, the clergy, and the Third 
Estate, should, at all odds and at all hazards, have 
kept together and jointly advised on matters relat- 
ing to the public weal. If a strong prince had con- 
trolled the nobility and the clergy, he could easily 
have secured the confidence and support of the peo- 
ple, and the needed reforms could have been ef- 
fected without having to pass through the tragedy 
of the Reign of Terror. There is no question but 
that Louis sympathized with the sufferings of the 
people, but he had no decision of character and he 
lacked sense and judgment to suggest remedies, 
6 81 


and the ability to cope with conditions. He was 
conservative and moderate in his views, but to- 
tally unfitted to guide the current of events or direct 
the policies of the nation. He could not read the 
lessons of the past, appreciate the conditions of the 
present, nor prognosticate the dangers of the future. 
He was neither a philosopher, a seer, nor a prophet. 
His inanity provokes pity rather than contempt. 

Louis was plain, unostentatious in manner, and 
simple in his habits and amusements. He was 
awkward, slovenly, and dull. He was passionately 
fond of hunting, was a great glutton, and would 
frequently get tipsy. All day long in his workshop 
he would study the intricacies of a lock, a door- 
lock, and apparently took more pleasure in this 
task than in studying the questions of constitutional 

Louis XVI., of all the kings of his line, if we 
consider him personally, is the one who should not 
have gone to the scaffold, for in his heart he really 
did desire the people's welfare. It was the weak- 
ness of his character that gave strength to the ene- 
mies of the throne. If he had been a man of firm- 
ness and decision, he might have changed or di- 
rected the course of the Revolution. Had he been 
a politician he could have won to his cause the 
strong men in the Assembly, but he was always 
half-hearted in his counsel and hesitated to carry 
out his half-formed plans. 

By his weakness and vacillation he gave cour- 
age, daring, and audacity to the demagogues, agi- 
tators and 'leaders of the mob. His friends lost 
confidence, honest men grew timid, and his ene- 


mies became insolent. Half a dozen times had he 
acted with decision he could have turned the tide 
in his favor, but at the critical moment he surren- 
dered to his fears. 

Instead of being born to the purple he ought to 
have been the son of a well-to-do bourgeoise. Be- 
hind the counter in his father's shop his industry, 
honesty, and thrift would have been useful and re- 
munerative, and, in time, he might have made quite 
a successful tradesman. 

He had aroused a sense of despair even in the 
heart of Louis XV., who, in one of his sardonic 
moods, when the weak amiability of the dauphin 
induced his contempt, said, with a sneer : " When 
I am gone I should like very much to know how 
Berry will pull through with it." 

Berry is no longer dauphin, he is now king, and 
a sorry pull he will make of it. 

Marie Antoinette played her part in provoking 
the resentment of the people and in hastening the 
Revolution. She had been trained by her mother, 
Maria Theresa, to occupy the throne of France, and 
was fourteen years of age when she left the Aus- 
trian capital to become the wife of the dauphin. 
Louis XV. had debauched the court and it was a 
nest of lust, vice, and intrigue. Gallantry and friv- 
olity were its chief occupations, a poor school for 
the training of a beautiful, light-hearted, capricious 
girl, who loved admiration and who was dominated 
by a desire to charm and captivate. 

The man chosen for her husband, heavy, awk- 
ward, retiring, uninteresting, passionless, was 
about the last man in that gay and gallant court 


who was fitted by nature to be the mate of this mad- 
cap of a girl. Even while all France was ringing 
with the fame of her beauty and her personal 
charm, he was without enthusiasm and apparently 
without desire. His conduct was so peculiar after 
his marriage that she asked her mother if it was 
not customary for a husband to visit the bed-cham- 
ber of his wife. 

She must have been a woman of indescribable 
charm of manner, but the portraits that have come 
down to us do not warrant the rapturous descrip- 
tions some of her admirers give of her personal 
beauty. Arthur Young refers to her as "a most 
beautiful woman." Goethe saw her on her way to 
Paris and described her as of " beauteous and lofty 
mien, cheerful as it was imposing." Madame 
Campan calls her " that enchanting being," while 
Edmund Burke, in one of his eloquent flights, ex- 
claims : " And surely never lighted on this orb, 
which she seemed hardly to touch, a more de- 
lightful vision." And quoting again from a high 
authority : "In short, it is extremely difficult to 
convey to any one who has not seen the queen any 
idea of all the grace and all the dignity that were 
combined in her." It, no doubt, was this grace and 
dignity and charm of manner that specially im- 
pressed, rather than the beauty of her face. 

Madame Le Brim, who painted her portrait, de- 
scribes her as " tall, exquisitely well made, suffi- 
ciently plump without being too much so. Her arms 
were superb, her hands small, perfect in form, and 
her feet charming. Her gait was more graceful 
than any woman in France; she held her head 


very erect with a majesty which distinguished the 
sovereign amidst all her court. Her features were 
not regular, she derived from her family that 
long, narrow oval, peculiar to the Austrian nation. 
Her eyes were not large, their color was nearly blue, 
her nose was thin and handsome, her mouth not too 
large, though her lips were rather thick. But the 
most remarkable thing about her face was the bril- 
liancy of her complexion." 

She was self-willed, thoughtless, impulsive, 
haughty and imperious. She made a grave mis- 
take in setting at defiance the strict rules of eti- 
quette and, we may add, the laws of propriety. Her 
careless and capricious conduct disturbed and 
shocked the stately, dignified, and ceremonious 
court of Louis XV. Depraved and corrupt as it 
was, the women endeavored to conceal their in- 
trigues and love affairs under the mask of mere 
coquetry. They assumed a virtue if they had it 
not. But Marie Antoinette, by her careless, free 
and open manner, gave every opportunity to the 
court gossips to shake their heads and wag their 
venomous tongues. No women are more severe in 
their denunciation of others than those who have 
sins of their own to hide. Sin, like misery, loves 
company, and the wicked excuse their own vices by 
pointing to those of others, especially when they 
can point to a queen whose lofty position makes her 
a shining example. 

Her conduct was surely not free from suspicion 

and censure, and the scandal of the court made her 

follies and indiscretions appear as vices. The ugly 

Countess of Provence, whom: she had snubbed and 



ridiculed, took every opportunity to circulate re- 
ports that reflected even on her virtue, while the 
homely daughters of Louis XV., whom in one of 
his moments of raillery he had nicknamed Loque, 
Coche, and Graille, added flavor to every vicious 

These reports soon reached the ears of the 
people, who were eager to believe every piece of 
juicy gossip that escaped from the precincts of the 

Her decree at Trianon, that the king should not 
be allowed to enter that domain without her special 
permission, subjected her to all sorts of criticism. 

When she was attacked by measles, she chose 
four dandies of the court as gentlemen of the bed- 
chamber to wait upon her by night and by day. 
After this peculiar conduct, there was, in the opin- 
ion of her enemies, no longer any reason to believe 
in her honor. The courtiers chosen by the queen to 
nurse her through her illness were, to be sure, men 
of the world, but she may have thought there was 
safety in numbers. If she had chosen only one, she 
would have had no excuse for her conduct. 

Before condemning the queen too severely for 
what appears to us to be more than an impropriety, 
we must bear in mind that it was customary in 
those days for ladies in the highest circles of so- 
ciety to receive male visitors while in bed or even 
while in a bath. In the latter case, the water was 
made opaque by pouring two or three quarts of milk 
into the tub. Ladies, without any hesitation what- 
ever, would dress and undress in the presence of 
their male servants and even admit to their bou- 


doirs, while making their toilets, their gentlemen 
callers. " O tempora ! O mores !" 

The conduct of Marie Antoinette, in choosing 
her nurses, did not specially disturb nor shock the 
court, nor did it call forth a remonstrance, so far 
as is known, from her confiding husband. Some 
envious old dowagers, however, soon sent the news 
abroad. The people were a little more particular 
in their notions of propriety than the court, and 
consequently the queen's reputation greatly suf- 

It had been said by those who were in a position 
to know that she had been found in compromising 
situations; that she had encouraged the attention 
of handsome young fellows like the dashing Lord 
Strathavon, Counts Fersen and Esterhazy, and 
even the worthless rake, Lauzun; and when the 
story of the diamond necklace was told, the people 
readily believed that the old roue, De Rohan, could 
have induced the queen to yield to his solicitations 
for so precious a gift. Every fair-minded per- 
son, however, who has studied the facts in that cel- 
ebrated case must, at least, admit that there is no 
reliable testimony, nor is there any conclusive evi- 
dence that proves the queen had anything whatever 
to do with the transaction. The parties concerned 
in the affair were absolutely unworthy of belief, 
and the silly, ambitious, lecherous Rohan was but 
a victim of the wiles of the intriguing Lamottes, 
who played upon the passions and the ambitions of 
that old rake to their hearts' content. But the story 
was one that readily found a lodgment in the pub- 
lic mind, for the people were already suspicious 


and even anxious to believe anything that reflected 
upon her honor and her virtue. The unwholesome 
affair deprived her of the little respect that was left 
in the hearts of the people for their queen, and 
marked her as doomed forever. Her reputation was 
soiled, and in the opinion of the public she was a 
common intriguer who had surrendered her body 
for a bauble. 

The statement that Count Fersen was the father 
of the dauphin is based upon the merest rumor, and 
is one of those stories that readily find circulation, 
but rest upon evidence that even in the court of a 
Dogberry would find neither consideration nor cre- 
dence. It is the kind of story that unfairly injures 
the reputation of a woman, for she cannot answer 
it nor set up a plea in defence without subjecting 
herself to further slander and detraction. It was 
vicious in its origin, unfair and contemptible in its 
statement, without proof in its support, and a mere 
guess in its conclusions. 

Dancing, gambling, dressing, and fetes were her 
principal diversions, but it was fashionable for all 
women in her class to indulge in these amusements. 
Her passion for gambling, however, became a pub- 
lic scandal ; upon the turn of a card she would risk 
a fortune. In dress, her taste was most extrava- 
gant. " Fashion at Versailles," says Watson in his 
charming " Story of France," " was as giddy a 
wanton as ever frisked from fad to fancy, and no- 
body could keep pace with it unless he lived in 
the palace or on the national treasury." 

Within the covers of her prayer-book she 
had carefully concealed an obscene novel, which at 


mass she read instead of her prayers. This was 
neither moral nor orthodox, and throws a strong 
light upon her real character. 

The rumor that she had named Trianon " Petit 
Vienne" and " Petit Schonbrunn" made her a for- 
eigner and a stranger in the eyes of the jealous 
French. In the belief of many she was but " a 
foreign spy in high position." She was dubbed the 
" hated Austrian," and to her influence, intrigues, 
schemes, and extravagance were attributed the woes 
and miseries of the state. 

Michelet says that " when the papers of Louis 
XVI. were found on the loth of August, in the 
iron chest, people read with astonishment that dur- 
ing the first years of her marriage he had looked 
upon his youthful bride as a mere agent of Aus- 
tria." Brissot, in his memoirs, quotes a letter 
dated October 17, 1774, which states that "the 
king caused her correspondence with Vienna to be 
watched by Thugut, in whom she confided." 

Her proud mother, Maria Theresa, with that 
German characteristic, love of the fatherland, had 
instilled the sentiment of patriotism into the hearts 
of all her children. She had many daughters occu- 
pying the thrones of Europe, and every union had 
been made with the single purpose of supporting 
the Austrian alliance. Marie Caroline was Queen of 
Naples ; Marie Amelia, Queen of Sardinia ; Marie 
Charlotte, Duchess of Parma; while Marie Chris- 
tine, the eldest daughter, governed with her hus- 
band the Austrian Netherlands. They were con- 
stantly in correspondence with the Austrian court, 
retained a love for their native land, and were ever 


alert to advance its interests and protect its alli- 

Marie Antoinette was always Austrian at heart. 
In vain did she describe herself as <k La Jeune Fran- 
goise," and that she was French even to the points 
of her nails. This assumed enthusiasm was to force 
herself to believe what she felt was not true, and 
to impress the people with her loyalty to France. 
Especially must her home love have been intensi- 
fied when she knew that she was hated and de- 
nounced by the French people because of her for- 
eign birth, but she had herself much to blame for 
this hatred. 

Her character has been the subject of adulation 
and abuse. On one side her partisans laud her as 
a saint; on the other, her enemies denounce her 
as a demon, a fiend incarnate w^hose spirit was cold 
and haughty and whose disposition was selfish and 
cruel. Not only in the opinion of her detractors did 
she lack the loyalty and fidelity of a wife, but also 
the love and devotion of a mother. The crimes 
imputed to her were unnatural in their wickedness 
and were such as would have disgraced a Messalina. 
She was charged, among other things, with having 
debauched her own son. Many of these charges 
were without foundation ; in fact, there was noth- 
ing upon which to base them but the cruel rumors 
of a suspicious and jealous court and the hatred of 
an enraged and a prejudiced people. No queen in 
history was ever more cordially hated by her sub- 
jects than Marie Antoinette. No wonder when 
the States General met she dreaded the issue, for 
with a woman's clear perception she saw, through 


the mist, the dark horizon beyond which threatened 
the coming storm ; she could distinctly hear the 
mutterings of the distant thunder, while to wiser 
eyes and ears the future seemed full of hope and 

During the Revolution she was accused of the 
vilest crimes. Fishwomen in the market place, 
with arms akimbo, regaled the gaping crowd with 
stories of her vice and amours ; the theatres nightly 
rang with ribald songs and the coarsest jokes at her 
expense ; lewd and suggestive pictures of her were 
sold by hawkers at the street corners; even sol- 
diers on guard, as she passed, would whisper, so 
that their indecent comments could be heard; the 
table in her boudoir was covered with anonymous 
letters. Her ears were constantly assailed with the 
hateful cry: " Long live the Duke of Orleans!" 
If she walked in the gardens of Versailles or the 
Tuileries, even the children jeered and hissed her. 
Her name was bandied in the salons, in the clubs, in 
the taverns, and in the gossipy precincts of the 
Palais Royal. 

In truth, she was neither a saint nor a fiend. She, 
perhaps, was not much worse than any young 
woman with beauty, health and vivacious spirit 
would have been who was thrown into a gay and 
voluptuous court, where every courtier was a gal- 
lant and where almost every woman secretly had 
her affaire a" amour. 

The only man who seemed to be deaf, blind and 

indifferent to the rumors was her simple, confiding, 

unsuspicious husband, who, if he had possessed 

half her spirit, would have defended her name from 



attack and would have protected her from insult 
and suspicion; but he was never more than amia- 
ble, and he could neither mould the character of a 
woman nor direct the policies of a state. He was as 
blind and as gullible as Belisarius, although it is 
not intended for a moment to intimate that his 
wife was an Antonina. 

She was, to say the least, a very foolish woman. 
She lived in the light that beats upon the throne, 
and she ought to have known that her every folly 
would be discovered and magnified. She lacked tact 
and made the mistake of disregarding the duties she 
owed to the public, and to her exalted and sacred 
office of queen. She neglected to observe the pro- 
prieties of life, and yet this utter disregard of pub- 
lic opinion and indifference to it may be taken as 
proof of her honesty. 

A little care and a few concessions would have 
saved her from the contempt and hatred of the 
fickle Parisians, who were ready to exaggerate 
every rumor that escaped from the exclusive circle 
of the court. 

She lived in an age of immorality, in the most 
corrupt court of Europe, and was surrounded every 
day of her life by men whose whole purpose was to 
bring women under the sway of their gallantry. 

She was wedded to an indifferent husband, a 
dolt, a dullard, whose blood was sluggish and who 
seemed to have no sentiment nor courage nor en- 
thusiasm, a man who would have been unattractive 
to any woman of spirit. His indifference con- 
stantly put his wife in the way of temptation, and 
then when her character was assailed, because of 


her foolish indiscretions, he had neither nerve nor 
temper to defend or correct her. He must have 
heard the rumors ; he must have known how light 
and frivolous she was, how devoted to pleasure, 
how imprudent in her conduct and in the choice of 
her friends, both men and women. 

It is unfair, however, to judge her by a rule we 
would apply to-day; we must consider her sur- 
roundings, her temptations, the corruption and 
frivolity of the court into which, at an early age, 
she was thrown. She had no strong hand to guide 
and control her, and she was married to a man 
whose amiability under the circumstances was 
worse than a vice. 

But we must draw a veil over her vanity and her 
follies, for the time is coming when she will pay a 
dreadful penalty for all her indiscretions. The 
queen of the proudest court in Europe is destined 
soon to meet an untimely fate, and all her sins will 
be forgiven and forgotten when we see her mount 
the guillotine and go to her death with a spirit 
undaunted, but with a heart softened by adversity. 

No matter what her extravagance had cost 
France, the account, at last, was balanced, when 
the amount paid for her burial was the beggarly 
sum of six dollars and twenty cents, a small draft, 
indeed, on the treasury that she had helped to im- 




THE American Revolution exerted an influence 
that can hardly be estimated in effecting the dif- 
fusion of liberal political ideas throughout all 
France. There was something that specially ap- 
pealed to the imagination of a Frenchman in the 
struggle of a brave people for their liberties against 
the tyranny and the oppression of a great empire, 
an empire, too, that was the natural enemy of 

" The American War," says Alison in his His- 
tory of the French Revolution, " was the great 
change which blew into a flame the embers of in- 
novation. Such was the universal enthusiasm 
which seized upon France at its commencement that 
nobles of the highest rank, princes, dukes and mar- 
quises solicited with impatient zeal commissions in 
the regiments destined to aid the insurgents. The 
passion for republican institutions increased with 
the successes of the American war, and at length 
rose to such a height as to infect even the courtiers 
of the palace." 

Another distinguished writer says : " The rulers 

of France, as if smitten with judicial blindness, 

plunged headlong into the American war. They 

encouraged the spirit of revolution. The event of 



the war carried to its height the enthusiasm of 
speculative democrats." 

It is impossible, of course, to estimate the influ- 
ence exerted in the matter of the diffusion of pop- 
ular ideas, by the presence of Franklin in France 
on the eve of the coming Revolution, but it must 
have been considerable. His arrival created the 
greatest enthusiasm among that sensation-loving 
people, and he inspired the greatest admiration for 
the ideal republic, which, they believed, had been 
established by him, across the seas, in the wilds of 
America. As the ambassador of the young repub- 
lic he was most warmly and enthusiastically re- 
ceived. The door of every fashionable and literary 
salon was thrown open and his reception at court 
was most cordial. He was made a member of the 
learned and scientific societies of the kingdom. He 
was feted, feasted, and toasted, and his name be- 
came a household word throughout all France. 
" His name," says John Adams, " was familiar to 
government and people, to king and courtiers, no- 
bility, clergy, and philosophers, as well as plebeians, 
to such a degree that there was scarcely a peasant 
or a citizen, a valet de chambre, a coachman, a foot- 
man, a lady's chambermaid, or a scullion in a 
kitchen, who was not familiar with it, and who did 
not consider him as a friend to humankind." 

An admiration so generous must have increased 
the desire of the people for the establishment in 
France of such a republic as he represented and for 
the application to government of such principles as 
he stood for. He appealed to the lively imagina- 
tion of an emotional people who were beginning 


to feel the impulse of a change. He seemed like an 
old philosopher who had stepped out of the past 
possessed of the wisdom of Solon and the humanity 
of Socrates. 

His writings were translated and found in the 
palace of the prince and in the hut of the plough- 
man, in the boudoir of the lady of fashion and in 
the garret of the seamstress. " Poor Richard's" 
sayings were as current as the coin of the realm. 

Franklin's features betokened thought and his 
countenance was benign and kindly and spoke of 
his love for man. His fur cap, his heavy shoes, 
his iron-rimmed spectacles, his homely, rustic- 
brown suit, his long hair falling upon his shoulders, 
made his appearance striking and picturesque. He 
was a familiar figure on the streets of Paris, and 
wherever he went he received assurances of regard 
and respect. The great philosopher, Auguste 
Comte, in his enthusiastic admiration, declared that 
" if he had been living when Franklin was in Paris 
he would have followed him through the streets and 
kissed the hem of his homespun overcoat made by 

He stood in the eyes of the French people as the 
personification of liberty. They had all heard that 
he had not only snatched the lightning from heaven 
but the sceptre from tyrants. His presence in 
France unquestionably aided in the diffusion of lib- 
eral views and intensified the longings for equal 
rights under the law. 

The whole nation espoused the cause of the young 
republic. Courtiers flocked to her standard and 
drew their swords in her defence ; young men, am- 


bilious of military glory, appealed to Franklin to 
secure them positions in the American army, that 
they might battle in the cause of a people's liberty. 

No American ever exerted so great an influence 
in France, or was ever held in so affectionate a 
regard by the French people as Benjamin Frank- 
lin. When he died in 1790, and the sad news 
was announced in the Assembly, Mirabeau as- 
cended the tribune and pronounced the following 
beautiful eulogium : 

" Franklin is dead ! Returned unto the bosom 
of the divinity is that genius which freed America 
and rayed forth upon Europe torrents of light. 

" The sage whom the two worlds alike claim 
the man for whom the history of science and the 
history of empires are disputing held, beyond 
doubt, an elevated rank in the human species. For 
long enough have political cabinets notified the 
death of those who were only great in their funeral 
orations, for long enough has court etiquette pro- 
claimed hypocritical mourning. Nations should 
only wear mourning for their benefactors. The 
representatives of nations ought only to recommend 
to their homage the heroes of humanity. 

" The Congress has ordained in the fourteen 
states of the confederation a mourning of two 
months for the death of Franklin, and America is 
acquitting, at this very moment, that tribute of 
veneration for one of the fathers of her constitu- 
tion. Would it not be worthy of us to join in 
that religious act, to participate in that homage 
rendered before the face of the universe, both to 
the rights of man and to the philosopher who has 

7 97 


the most contributed to extend their acknowledg- 
ment over all the world? Antiquity would have 
raised altars to that vast and powerful genius, who, 
for the advantage of mortals embracing in his as- 
pirations heaven and the earth, knew how to tame 
tyrants and their thunderbolts. France, enlight- 
ened and free, ow^es at the least an expression of 
remembrance and regret for one of the greatest men 
that have ever aided philosophy and liberty. 

" I propose that it be decreed that the National 
Assembly wears mourning during three days for 
Benjamin Franklin." 

France never paid a greater honor to one not 
born within her borders. 

The discussion of political rights, in the abstract, 
had long engaged the thinkers and philosophers, 
but at last the king himself had espoused the cause 
of a people battling against their sovereign for the 
establishment of a democracy. The French gov- 
ernment furnished money, men, and munitions of 
war to aid rebellion in America ; further than that 
it morally supported the efforts of a people who 
had defied their king, renounced their allegiance, 
and declared their independence. The republican 
enthusiasm inspired by the American war gave 
strength to revolutionary ideas and doctrines in 
France. One revolution, in a measure, was the 
sequence of the other. 

France had aided in the creation of a free 
nation, why should she herself not be free? All 
classes of citizens were enthusiastic in their sup- 
port of the American Revolution, and it became 
a fashion even among the silken courtiers to advo- 


cate the rights of man and political equality. The 
dullest mind could easily see that if there was a 
reason for a revolution in America, there were a 
thousand reasons why there should be one in 

The French Revolution was the breaking away 
from all moral, religious, and political restraint. It 
was a surrender to the hatred and passions of men, 
resulting from the tyranny of both church and state, 
from the insolence and exactions of the crown, the 
higher clergy, and the upper or privileged classes. 
It was personal in its opposition and vented its rage 
and spleen on individuals. It was not always con- 
trolled by the principles of humanity and civil lib- 
erty ; for in its delirium it was a dethroning of God 
as well as king, an abandonment of faith and an 
opposition to authority of every kind and character. 

On the other hand, the American Revolution was 
a battle for principles, for the securing of political 
freedom. It was a struggle waged with a clearly 
denned purpose to acquire liberty under the law 
and political equality. It appealed to the reason 
and the consciences of men and firmly relied on the 
protection of Divine Providence. It was not a con- 
test of a wild and frenzied people urged by hate; 
it was not against men, but for principles. A rev- 
olution led and directed by Washington, Lee, 
Adams, Franklin, and Witherspoon, must neces- 
sarily have differed in its purposes and characteris- 
tics from one led and directed by Desmoulins, Dan- 
ton, Marat, Hebert, and Robespierre. 

We must admit, however, that the causes and 
conditions that provoked the struggles were not the 


same in the two countries. It would have been im- 
possible for any government to have imposed upon 
the Anglo-Saxon race a tyranny so insolent as 
that borne by the French nation. 

France was ripe for a change. There never was 
a condition so favorable for a revolution or a land 
in which a revolution was a greater necessity, and 
when it gained momentum, it swept in its fury 
everything before it to destruction. In the language 
of a distinguished English essayist : " We deplore 
the outrages which accompany revolutions, but the 
more violent the outrages the more assured we feel 
that a revolution was necessary." 

Beaumarchais played no unimportant part in 
hurrying along the events that were to focus in the 

He was the son of a reputable watchmaker of 
Paris and was early apprenticed to his father's 
trade. Through the invention of an improved 
watch escapement, he brought himself into public 
notice. His invention was pirated; he instituted 
proceedings to secure his claim, and the Academy 
of Sciences, to which the question was referred, 
decided in his favor. 

He was given permission to try his invention on 
the watch of Madame de Pompadour, and soon 
afterwards succeeded in securing the honor of being 
designated " Watchmaker to the King." 

He was a handsome young fellow, witty, clever, 
courageous, and ambitious. He was impudent and 
brooked no insolence from the curled and pampered 
darlings of the court. The story is told that a 



From an engraving in the collection of William J. Latta, Esq. 


young nobleman stopped him one day and asked 
him to examine his watch that seemed out of repair. 
Beaumarchais coolly remarked that he had been so 
long out of practice that he feared he would be 
unable to discover the cause of the trouble, and then 
taking the watch from the hands of the courtier, 
he let it slip through his fingers to the floor, where 
it was dashed to pieces. Turning on his heel, he 
said to the astonished courtier : " I told you I was 
out of practice." 

He was an accomplished musician and charmed 
with his art the daughters of the king. He was 
requested to give them lessons on the harp, and 
through their influence he was given recognition 
in the society of the court. 

He made a fortunate stroke by marrying a rich 
widow; her money enabled him to purchase an 
office which carried with it a title of nobility. He 
was taken into the confidence of the king, who 
sent him on a delicate mission to hunt and destroy 
pamphlets that lampooned the precious Du Barry, 
and sad to say even reflected upon her virtue. He 
was in after years employed in a like capacity by 
Louis XVI. to hunt up and burn up a scandalous 
publication that libeled Marie Antoinette. It was 
rumored that the book he was sent out to suppress, 
in this instance, had been written by himself. 

When thirty-five years of age he became a dram- 
atist, and his two comedies, " The Barber of Se- 
ville" and " The Marriage of Figaro," met with 
unprecedented success. He satirized the vices of 
the aristocracy, mercilessly ridiculed and exposed 
their follies. Nothing sacred in religion, politics 


or social life was safe from his wit and satire. His 
plays were seditious and irreverent. He displayed 
in their true colors the hypocrisy and immorality of 
churchmen, the wickedness of polite society, and 
the corruption of the state. 

Liaisons and seduction were represented as mere 
amusements in which the man who did not succeed 
in his purpose was a bungling fool. He sneered at 
marriage and laughed at the innocent modesty of 
pure womanhood. Deceived husbands were made 
a butt and faithless wives, if successful in their 
amours, were heroines. He held the mirror up, and 
polite society saw its true reflection. The outside 
world likewise failed not to see the deformed 

If the purpose of satire be to reform, its real 
object, in this instance, was reached, in time. The 
satire did not work an immediate reformation, but 
sowed the seed that was to bring forth fruit in 

Louis XVI., imagining that he saw something in 
" The Marriage of Figaro" that was unwholesome 
and dangerous, forbade its presentation. But 
Beaumarchais gave private readings of the play in 
select circles, and whetted the appetite of the cour- 
tiers for its presentation on the stage. The queen 
coaxed and wheedled the complacent Louis, until 
he gave his consent, both little dreaming that they 
were aiding in the final destruction of the monarchy 
and of their own throne. 

On the first night of its presentation the crowd 
was so great that the doors of the theatre were 
forced, and in the scuffle and struggle for seats three 



persons were smothered and crushed to death. It 
was as much as the guards could do to prevent a 

The king was informed that some lines of the 
play reflected upon him personally, and he had 
Beaumarchais consigned to prison; but the public 
clamored for the release of the author, and Louis, 
five days after the arrest, gave an order for his 
discharge. If the aristocracy had had any respect 
for itself it would have winced under the stripes of 
the satirist, but strange to say, instead of object- 
ing, it encouraged the production of the plays, 
Marie Antoinette herself, in the theatre at Trianon, 
assumed the character of Rosina in the " Barber 
of Seville." The cast was made up of nobles, men 
and women. An aristocratic audience laughed and 
jeered the monarchy to its ruin. The play brought 
contempt on the rotten system and aided in its final 
destruction. The laughter that the wit and the 
keen satire provoked was the death-knell of the 
ancien regime. 








THE immediate causes of the Revolution were 
the disordered state of the finances, the misery, and 
the discontent of the people. A national bank- 
ruptcy was threatened, the classes were antagonis- 
tic to each other, the public mind was inflamed, the 
people were restless, dissatisfied, and bent upon 
having a change. 

The king was willing, no doubt was anxious, to 
make reforms; in fact, in his own weak, charac- 
teristic way, he endeavored to act upon the sugges- 
tions made by his able minister; but he had not 
the moral courage to carry them out to a conclu- 

He was fortunate in having so able and so pa- 
triotic a minister as Turgot, but unfortunately 
Louis Had neither sense nor wisdom enough to be 
always guided by his advice. 

Malesherbes, in speaking of Turgot, said " he 
had the head of Bacon and the heart of L'Hopital." 
If this were so, it was truly a great combination of 
heart and mind. 

The king often remarked : " I and Turgot are 
the only friends of the people." Who can estimate 


the effect on the public mind of such a confession ? 
Itjgvealed in alHtsJruth the opposition of theju^l 
Fbility to the interests~ancl the welfafe^of the com-J 
I mon_eople./ The king unconsciously was~afFaying 
~class against class. In his desire to show how he 
loved the people he taught them that the nobility 
were their enemies, and then he served the enemies 
of the people by removing Turgot, whom he had 
declared was the friend of the people. 

The king should have more carefully measured 
the meaning and the effect of his words. There 
was, however, not much truth in what he said, for 
when the reforms were attempted and the privi- 
leged classes clamored for the dismissal of the 
minister, Louis, the self-styled friend of the peo- 
ple, soon yielded to their demands. He himself 
declared that the policy of Turgot was too radical, 
to use his own language, " almost revolution- 
ary." Even the mobs in Paris were aroused by 
the agents and the emissaries of the court to re- 
sist the reforms. Ignorant and debased, they were 
not able to understand and appreciate the purposes 
of a minister who was anxious to promote the pub- 
lic welfare and to do all in his power to relieve 
the disastrous and demoralized conditions that pre- 
vailed everywhere throughout the realm. 

Among the reforms recommended and attempted 
by Turgot were the abolition of the iniquitous cor- 
vee; the removal of restraints upon industry; the 
wresting of trade from the monopolistic control of 
the guilds; the reduction and the equalization of 
taxation by compelling the clergy and the nobles to 
pay their proportionate share. He even suggested 


the giving to the people a representation in the pro- 
vincial assemblies and the calling of the States Gen- 
eral. He was about the only Frenchman in official 
life of that period who advocated the doctrine of 
the American colonists, that there should be " no 
taxation without representation." His reform pol- 
icy met with so determined an opposition that his 
fall could not be averted, and after his resignation 
a reaction set in immediately. 

The privileged classes and the Farmers General 
rejoiced when Turgot was dismissed, but the 
thoughtful men of the nation stood aghast. Con- 
dorcet declared that all nature seemed changed in 
his eyes, and Voltaire wrote in a letter to La 
Harpe : " I see nothing but death before me. I 
cannot understand the purpose of the king in part- 
ing with so valuable a minister. It is a thunder- 
bolt which has struck my brain and heart." Tur- 
got was one of the wisest, one of the greatest, one 
of the most patriotic ministers that ever guided the 
destinies of France. His gradual reforms, if they 
could have been continued, might have saved the 
state from bankruptcy and averted the Revolution. 

De Tocqueville says : " Experience teaches that 
the most dangerous moment for a bad government, 
ordinarily, is that when it begins to reform itself." 
This may not be true in all instances, but it was 
unquestionably so in the case of France. The evils 
to be corrected were so many and so grievous that 
an attempt to remedy any of them only revealed in 
a stronger light the wrongs that had so long been 
endured. This attempt by the government to re- 
form created and aroused a determination in the 

From an engraving in the collection of William J. Latta, Esq. 


hearts of those who had suffered to effect a change 
in every direction. Once open the dykes and a 
deluge follows. A people, especially an ignorant 
people, until an intelligent effort be made to effect 
reforms, submits, endures and suffers, as if a change 
were out of the question, but when the government 
itself undertakes to correct abuses, for which abuses 
it is and has been responsible, it admits or concedes 
its errors and the people are thus taught that relief 
should be given. If the government fails to give 
the needed relief, its failure points the way to rev- 

Necker succeeded Turgot. He was a vain, self- 
confident man and greatly overrated as a financier. 
He was more of a banker than a statesman. He 
has been well defined as a high-typed charlatan. 
He had been a very capable and successful banker, 
but the conditions he was called upon to meet as 
minister were far beyond his power to direct or 
control. The task would have put to a severe test 
the ability of a much stronger man. He traced all 
the woes of France to the financial disorders rather 
than to the existing social and political conditions. 
He did not know the causes of the impending 
crisis; it appeared to him that the solution of the 
problem was only a matter of bookkeeping and 
economy in administration. 

His principal reform was his " Compte Rendu," 
which was an account published showing the re- 
ceipts and expenditures of the state. It revealed a 
condition of things that startled the people, ex- 
posed the monstrous extravagance of the court, and 
showed an enormous deficit which had been in- 


creasing for years. The idea of the king taking 
an account of stock like a common tradesman and 
submitting his books to the public showing his per- 
sonal expenses was, in the opinion of the nobility, 
a scandalous proceeding. The suggestion of such a 
plan, by a minister, was considered almost an act 
of treason, and Necker's deposition was but a mat- 
ter of time. 

This showing was made by Necker to induce 
capital to take the loans of the state, but the finan- 
cial condition of the country was so much worse 
than it had been thought to be that the revelation 
of the truth produced a feeling of timidity and dis- 
trust. It aroused public opinion, and from every 
quarter came a demand for economy and reform. 
His attempt to reduce the expenses of the court 
aroused the anger of the nobility, who believed that 
the kingdom existed alone for their pleasure and 
advantage. They had influence enough with the 
king to cause his dismissal. 

Necker was succeeded by Calonne, " the en- 
chanter." He was also called " the model finan- 
cier," and the " ladies' minister." He was witty 
and sanguine. His supreme assurance inspired for 
a time universal confidence. He fascinated and 
seduced the court; he smiled away their fears and 
with promises 'dispelled their doubts. How could 
there be anything wrong when the minister assured 
the country that there was no trouble? The court 
no longer dreaded the future, it was safe under 
the directing wisdom of such a wizard. It is said 
that to all requests of Marie Antoinette he would 
reply : " Madame, if what your Majesty asks is 


possible, it is already done; if impossible, it shall 
be done." 

Under his administration prodigality again be- 
came a fashion. " Waste is the true alms-giving 
of kings." It was contended that the extravagance 
of the state put money into circulation, gave em- 
ployment to the poor and aided in the prosperity 
of the country ; but such a policy is as reckless and 
fallacious as its maxim is faulty. 

Von Hoist says " Calonne's maxim was : ' If 
you are in distress for money, do not noise it about, 
but spend lavishly; the public, believing that you 
have much, will readily lend you all you want.' It 
worked excellently well." One of the courtiers 
said : "I knew that Calonne would save the state, 
but I did not expect he would do it in the twinkling 
of an eye." 

The deficit increased from year to year. In 
Necker's day it was well over fifty million francs. 
The best estimate Calonne could make in 1787 
showed a deficit of one hundred and twenty-five 
million francs. 

When Necker went into office he found twenty- 
eight millions of pensions. After his dismissal pub- 
lic money was again showered upon the favorites of 
the court. Calonne built palaces and inaugurated 
an era of public improvements. France, already 
bankrupted, assumed a business and a prosperous 
air. But such a policy was only adding woes to 
the state and increasing the miseries of the people. 
It was simply prolonging the agony without pro- 
viding any efficient remedy to relieve the distress. 
The outgo was more than the income, and the 


deficit was annually increasing. The final result 
was inevitable, it could have been foretold by a 

The Parliament of Paris differed in its organi- 
zation not a whit from the Parliaments of other 
towns, but it claimed the right and exercised the 
power of taxing the nation. In 1786 Calonne 
asked the Parliament of Paris to register a loan. 
It complied with the request of the minister, but 
imposed restrictions as to the appropriations under 
the loan. The king waxed wroth and with his own 
royal right hand scratched out the restrictions. 
The minister, put to his wits' ends, now urged 
that a meeting of the Notables should be called. 
This was a body composed of the representatives 
of the privileged orders, which body had not been 
convened for one hundred and sixty years. It 
numbered one hundred and forty-four members, 
all named by the king. Princes of the blood, 
nobles, archbishops, bishops, councillors of state, 
the municipal officers of the large towns, and 
magistrates, composed this august assembly. It 
was not reasonable to suppose that such a body of 
men would enter enthusiastically upon a task that 
required a sacrifice of time-honored privileges. A 
few nobles like La Fayette favored reform, but 
they were overwhelmed by the majority. 

The Notables, without providing any substantial 
relief, succeeded, however, in revealing to the na- 
tion the vicious mismanagement that characterized 
the financial administration of the country Ca- 
lonne was now awake to the conditions, and to 
provide for immediate relief he boldly advised the 


taxing of the lands of the nobility and the church ; 
and to relieve the people from the burdens that 
were crushing them he suggested the reduction of 
the salt tax ; and to encourage and revive trade he 
advocated the abolition of the interior custom 
houses. " Why, you are returning to the policy of 
Turgot," cried the king. " Yes, Sire," replied Ca- 
lonne, "it is the only policy to adopt in such a 
crisis." The nobility, however, as usual, evinced 
no spirit of concession. In the face of the fact that 
the state was plunging into bankruptcy, the nobles 
would not agree to surrender any of their privi- 
leges, but turned with all their bitterness upon Ca- 
lonne, demanding his dismissal. The king was 
easily persuaded to comply with their request, and 
Calonne stepped out of office into obscurity. / 

A public demand was made for the convening of 
the States General, an assembly in which not only 
the privileged classes would be represented but the 
entire body of the common people as well. This 
legislative body of the realm had not been convoked 
since 1640. It was an ancient body, Philip the 
Fair in the fourteenth century having first brought 
it into existence. 

A few events, however, had to transpire first 
before Louis could be persuaded to summon it. 
Mirabeau declared that " when a king allows his 
subjects to perish from hunger or forces them to it, 
which is more atrocious still, it is to avow that he 
is not capable of governing them it is to renounce 
the rights he exercises over them."| What is to be 
done under such conditions, said Mirabeau, but to 
call upon and advise with the wisdom of the whole 


nation by convoking the States General forthwith ? 
Necker's recall was suggested, but the queen ar- 
gued against such a move and persuaded Louis to 
name M. de Fonqueux, whose short administration 
was a blank failure. He was succeeded by Lomenie 
de Brienne, a churchman, whose ambition had long 
tempted him to intrigue for a place he had not the 
ability to fill. 

Matters were growing worse from day to day. 
The nation was on the verge of revolution. For 
centuries France had been preparing for it and the 
point had been reached when there was a favorable 
concurrence of all circumstances and conditions in- 
ternal and external. Misrule, unjust immunities, 
cruel exactions, famine, poverty, infidelity, class 
distinctions and privileges, together, combined to 
produce a convulsion that shook all Europe to its 
very centre. Even nature gave a helping hand to 
add to the general distress. A devastating hail- 
storm in the mid-summer of 1788 destroyed the 
crops ripe for the harvest in all the best corn-grow- 
ing districts of the kingdom. This disaster was 
followed by a winter of unusual bitterness and the 
country folk swarmed to Paris, which was already 
over-crowded with her starving poor. She re- 
ceived this army of vagabonds and swallowed them 
up in her vaults, her cellars, her garrets, and in the 
recesses of her dingy, filthy tenements. Unable to 
obtain employment, they prowled through the 
streets, hungry and without hope, ready for any 
desperate enterprise. They were the advance 
guard. It was the beginning of the mobilization 
of the army of the Revolution. Events were has- 



tening to a crisis. We now begin to sniff the 
smoke and the blood of the Revolution. 

Matters had reached such a pass that immediate 
relief was a necessity, and the king was urged to 
call a meeting of the States General. The king 
consented. The calamity was general, and it was 
but proper that all interests should be considered, 
and the representatives of all classes advised with 
in order to provide for the public welfare. 

De Brienne resigned and Necker was recalled. 

In 1789, at the time of the convocation of the 
States General, the privileged classes numbered 
about two hundred and seventy thousand persons. 
Of these the nobility were one hundred and forty 
thousand, the clergy one hundred and thirty thou- 
sand, and from the latter must be taken sixty thou- 
sand cures and vicars, who are aptly described by 
Carlyle as " commons disguised in curate frocks;" 
two hundred and ten thousand persons out of a 
population of twenty-five million enjoyed all the 
immunities, privileges, and advantages that the 
state was able to provide and bestow. These fig- 
ures show the disproportion that existed between 
the privileged few and the great body of the people, 
a disproportion that was unfair, iniquitous, and 

" The disproportion is so great, we cannot but 
Expect a fatal consequence." 

The meeting of the States General marked the 
beginning of the end of the conditions that had so 
long existed and that had burdened France so 
8 113 


heavily. The absolutism of the crown and the 
privileges of the upper classes were to be swallowed 
up in the coming cataclysm. 

The total number of deputies to the States Gen- 
eral was twelve hundred and fourteen; one-half 
of this number came from the Third Estate, and of 
this half three hundred and seventy-four were 

All interest centred in this body of representa- 
tive men of the people. All the hopes and fears of 
France were in the keeping of these deputies of the 
Third Estate. 

Strange to say, it was the general belief that 
there were no questions that could not be easily 
solved, no troubles that could not be settled. To 
use the language of a writer of that period : " The 
body of the nation saw nothing more in the assem- 
bling of the States General than a means of dimin- 
ishing the taxes, and the creditors of the state, so 
often deprived of their dividends by a violation of 
public faith, considered the States General as 
nothing more than a rampart against government 

The selection of Versailles as the place of meet- 
ing was not endorsed by popular approval. The 
people and their representatives preferred Paris, 
for it was contended that the congress, if it met in 
this city, would be further removed from the direct 
influences of the court. 




ON May 4, 1789, the States General paraded 
through Versailles, from the Church of Our Lady 
to the Church of St. Louis, where solemn high mass 
was celebrated, after which a sermon was preached 
by the Bishop of Nancy, who strongly denounced 
the unjust system of taxation and eloquently and 
pathetically described the miseries of the poor, 
among other things, saying : " They are martyrs 
in whom life is prolonged simply that their suffer- 
ing may be longer endured." He ended his dis- 
course by declaring that " all the wrongs were 
done in the name of the best of kings." The hall 
rang with enthusiastic applause, notwithstanding 
the sacred character of the place and the presence 
of the king and the queen. 

" They were drunk with the desire to applaud," 
said Mirabeau, " and they applauded unto satiety." 

The spirit of revolution was beginning to show 
itself in little things. Mere time-honored rules no 
longer controlled the actions of men. We shall 
soon see the deputies of the Third Estate defiantly 
remain covered in the presence of the king and 
thus assert their dignity and independence. 

It was an ideal day in the sweetest month of all 

the year when the States General met at Versailles ; 

the air was cool and the sky clear and deeply blue, 

the sun's rays warmed the atmosphere just enough 



to make it delightful and invigorating. The 
flowers were blooming and fragrant and the 
grasses and foliage were freshly green. All na- 
ture was gloriously fair and vied with man in 
adding beauty and harmony to the occasion. But 
this harmony was in sheer mockery of what was 
yet to come. It gave no suggestion of the terrors 
that were to follow in its wake; it was the calm 
before the breaking of the storm. 

Flags were flying from every window; the 
streets were hung with tapestries of inestimable 
value; inspiring music resounded on all sides and 
bells were ringing joyfully from every tower. 
Soldiers in gay and brilliant uniforms lined both 
sides of the avenue through which the procession 
passed. Every inch of available space was occu- 
pied ; even the roofs were crowded with on-lookers. 
The windows and balconies were filled with fair 
women and brave men; all the beauty, wit and 
chivalry of France had gathered at Versailles, 
every eye sparkled with joy. It was a rapturous, 
an enchanting scene that beggars description; it 
was one of the most magnificent pageants that the 
world records. 

Flowers and banners and music and pomp and 
glitter were on all sides. Enthusiasm was in the 
air, for all yet were loyal to the king; cheers and 
applause greeted the procession every step of its 
way. Behind this mask, however, were the ghastly 
features of death. Royalty, unawares, was march- 
ing to its grave ; amidst all this sunshine and splen- 
dor, it was unconsciously hurrying to its doom. 

The day following the scenes just described, the 


States General met for the purpose of organization 
in the Salle des Menus at Versailles. It was a 
large hall capable of holding more than five thou- 
sand people. It had been specially adapted to the 
purposes of the meeting and no care nor expense 
had been spared in the matter of preparation. The 
preliminaries had been most carefully arranged, 
and the records of a prior meeting of the States 
General that was held in the reign of Philip le 
Bel were brought out of their dust and cobwebs 
and studied for the purpose of guiding and in- 
structing in the all-important matters of form and 
etiquette; in fact, the questions of etiquette, for- 
mality, and precedence occupied the minds of the 
court and the masters of ceremony to the exclu- 
sion of more important matters. Those in charge 
of the arrangements totally forgot that the inter- 
vening centuries had wrought great changes, and, 
blind to existing conditions, they preferred to ad- 
here strictly to ancient and time-honored precedent 
rather than yield to reason, concession and policy. 
At a time when the popular mind should have 
been appeased and calmed, the court insisted that 
the members of the Third Estate should kneel when 
they presented their cahiers or petitions to the king, 
that they were to uncover in the presence of his 
Majesty, and that they were to enter the hall by 
a side door, while the nobles were to enter by the 
main gate-way. All these matters were thus de- 
cided upon, in the opinion of the Third Estate, for 
no purpose other than to remind the representatives 
of the people of their social and political inferiority, 
and, of course, this only further irritated the public 


temper. There is a story told that illustrates this 
ruling passion for form and ceremony. It shows 
how strictly it was adhered to even when the Revo- 
lution threatened destruction to all class distinc- 
tions, to the throne itself. Roland, when Minister 
of the Interior, the first time he appeared at the 
chateau, had strings in his shoes and wore a round 
hat; his attire did not conform to the rules of eti- 
quette. The master of ceremonies, M. Breze, re- 
fused to admit him. Obliged, however, to yield, 
he said, despairingly, to Dumouriez, pointing to 
Roland, "Ah, sir, no buckles in his shoes!" "Ah, 
sir," replied Dumouriez, with a mock sympathetic 
air, "all is lost!" Such were the trifles that still 
occupied the attention of the court and its lackeys. 
A like story is told of the same Breze when he was 
master of ceremonies during the Restoration, at 
the Court of Louis XVIII. The courtier had 
grown much older, but time in no wise had weak- 
ened his love of precise etiquette. One day a gen- 
eral was summoned hastily to the apartments of the 
king. He came to the palace wearing a colored 
cravat, which was considered entirely "out of 
form." Breze, not knowing the general, refused 
to let him go in unless he made the necessary 
change, and to relieve the situation, Breze sug- 
gested that he should borrow a white cravat from 
one of the soldiers of the guard near at hand. The 
affair was reaching a crisis when, fortunately, a 
court official, recognizing the general and soon un- 
derstanding the trouble, took him by the arm and 
led him in to the king. Breze, turning to a lady 
standing by, exclaimed: "Oh, Madame! that i-3 


the way revolutions are made." This royal 
flunkey, from his point of view, no doubt thought 
the worst features of the great Revolution were the 
abolition of titles and the destruction of etiquette 
and ceremony. 

And now everything was ready for the great 
event, greater by far than any one, even among 
the knowing ones, in all France, imagined. 

The States General, at last, was in session. On 
a lofty dais, under a purple velvet canopy, spangled 
with golden fteurs de Us, stood the throne of the 
king. Louis was surrounded by his court, resplen- 
dent in their gorgeous robes; at his side sat his 
queen, supported by a retinue of princesses and 
ladies of the royal household, all superbly gowned 
and jewelled, while in the background stood the 
king's guard in dazzling uniforms. 

In front of the dais, but lower down, were 
Necker and the ministers of the realm. On the 
right were the nobles of the church, who were no 
less magnificent in their surplices, mantle and 
robes than royalty itself. On the left wert the 
nobility in their court costumes of black cloth, silk 
and gold cloaks, and wearing picturesque hats, 
turned up a la Henry IV., adorned with waving 
white plumes. 

In front of the dais and further back in the 
hall sat the Third Estate in its plain garb. Its sim- 
ple attire consisted of black cloth coat, waist-coat, 
and knee-breeches, a shoulder mantle of silk, white 
muslin cravat, and a hat cocked at three sides, 
which hat was yet to play a prominent part in 
setting at defiance, for the first time, an ancient rule 


of etiquette, and thus giving notice, when the Third 
Estate stood covered in the presence of the king, 
that the old order of things was no longer in vogue. 
It was the first sign of real rebellion, for it was a 
step towards the settlement of the question of 
political equality. It revealed the true spirit of the 
people's deputies. At a time such as this, little 
things were of great consequence. 

The galleries were crowded with the beauty and 
the intellect of France. Ladies attended by their 
gallants, men of letters and distinction, ambassa- 
dors from foreign states, and representatives from 
every quarter of the globe looked down upon this 
scene of dazzling splendor. It was a scheme of 
color that perhaps has never been equalled in the 
world's history, all the hues on the palette of a 
Rubens could not depict on canvas its marvellous 

The Third Estate, like a black cloud on the ho- 
rizon, seemed amidst all this show and splendor to 
forebode disaster; it was suggestive, threatening, 
ominous. Its plain garb was in so marked a con- 
trast to the resplendent costumes of the court, the 
nobility, and the hierarchy, that it seemed a badge 
of meanness, and the very contrast irritated the 
spirit of the proud deputies. At a time when the 
passions of the people should have been allayed 
by every possible means, the court appeared more 
determined than ever to impose upon the represen- 
tatives of the people a distinguishing badge, to re- 
mind them of their social and political inferiority. 
"What is the Third Estate? Nothing. What 
should it be? Everything." 


In the care of the six hundred deputies of the 
people rested the hopes and the liberties of France. 
In this sombre group were men who were destined 
to play an important and a most influential part in 
the coming drama. 

Barnave, of philosophical temperament, of lofty, 
proud, and courageous spirit, watched with interest 
the passing events. No doubt, once in awhile, his 
eyes rested on the queen, but little could he read 
the future or guess what it had in store for both 
of them. 

Bailly, the kind-hearted, pedantic astronomer, 
who had all his life been watching the stars, was 
not able to read the fate and destiny of his country. 
Little did he anticipate that the time would come 
when, as Mayor of Paris, he would chide the king. 

Buzot, hopeful, sincere, patriotic, devoted to the 
popular cause, beloved of Madame Roland, was yet 
to be proscribed as a royalist and to be found stiff 
and stark in a field near Bordeaux, a victim of 
faction and anarchy, and food for famished dogs. 

Rabaut Sainte Etienne was yet to arouse with 
his surpassing eloquence the National Assembly, 
and, in the end, pay the penalty for opposing the 
bloody triumvirate by ascending the scaffold. 

Malouet, confident of the future, liberal in his 
views, in love with France, was to do battle for 
constitutional government and avoid death by flee- 
ing to England. 

Mounier, distinguished by his moderation and 
conservatism, saw, as the result of this Assembly, 
an end of the woes of the people and a future 
prosperity for his country, but, alas, his hopes were 



destined to be only hopes, for, in time, he was to 
be hunted into exile and driven beyond the borders 
of the land he so dearly loved. 

Robespierre, a young man about thirty, if so 
canting, so bilious a creature could ever be called 
young, was there as a deputy from Arras ; a lawyer 
by profession, a theorist and a morbid sentimental- 
ist by nature; an enigma, a demon of death, who 
could mourn, actually weep, over the loss of a pet 
pigeon; and yet, when the time came, could keep 
the guillotine busy chopping off the heads of 
friends as well as foes. He sat in the Assembly, 
watching with his squinting, snake-like eyes, the 
king, who in time was to be his victim. 

The Abbe Sieyes, trained for the church, but 
better fitted for political intrigue, who had given 
a powerful impulse to the public mind when he 
asked, "What is the Third Estate?" was here to 
get an answer to his question. 

Somewhere, no doubt, hidden away in the crowd, 
stood Marat, restless, eager, sinister, already scent- 
ing the blood of the aristocrats. Perhaps, too, 
could be seen the scarred face of Danton, as also 
the swarthy features of Camille Desmoulins, who 
was watching with interest the proceedings, little 
anticipating the part he was to play as " the first 
apostle of liberty" and " the attorney-general of 
the lamp-post." 

Madame de Stae'l looked down from the gallery 
and affectionately watched her father while he 
tediously read a paper on the financial distresses of 
France, in which he showed a deficit of fifty-six 
million francs. Perhaps she was the only listener 


From an engraving in the collection of William J. Latta, Esq. 


in that vast audience that attentively followed him, 
and she was controlled more by affection than in- 
terest, for, as Theirs says, " He wearied by his 
prolixity those whom he did not offend by his 

Not once did Necker refer to the needs of con- 
stitutional reform. The whole tenor of his paper 
was the suggestion of methods by which more 
revenues could be secured for the payment or .re- 
duction of the public debt. This, of course, meant 
further taxation. It was the same old cry : " The 
king loves his starving people, but he needs and 
demands more tribute." 

' Two ladies of rank, from a gallery, with very 
different feelings beheld the spectacle," writes Ali- 
son in his history of the French Revolution. ' The 
one was Madame de Montmorin, wife of the minis- 
ter of foreign affairs; the other the illustrious 
daughter of M. Necker, Madame de Stae'l. The 
latter exulted in the boundless prospect of national 
felicity, which seemed to be opening under the 
auspices of her father. ' You are wrong to rejoice/ 
said Madame de Montmorin ; ' this event fore- 
bodes much misery to France and to ourselves.' 
Her presentiment turned out too well founded; 
she herself perished on the scaffold, with one of 
her sons ; another was drowned ; her husband was 
massacred in the prisons on September 2d; her 
eldest daughter was cut off in gaol ; her youngest 
died of a broken heart before she had attained the 
age of thirty years." 

All the actors in that great drama have passed 
away, a century of years has intervened, but the 


interest in the proceedings and the deliberations of 
that meeting is unabated. It seems as fresh as ever. 

Versailles presented a magnificent spectacle of 
a dying monarchy. The nobles and the courtiers, 
still fawning upon and flattering the king, were in 
time, in a short time, to abandon him to his fate, 
turn their backs on France, and ignominously fly 
across the border to find refuge in foreign courts 
and in strange lands. 

All this glittering pageant was to vanish like a 
dream, and leave but a memory behind. King and 
queen, so resplendent in their robes and glory, were 
to be shorn of their power, deprived of their 
crowns, stripped of their titles, and abandoned by 
all their friends. Louis and Marie Capet were to 
ascend the scaffold to pay the penalty for the crimes 
of their ancestors and the wrongs of centuries. 

There was one deputy to the States General 
whose coming was anxiously looked for. Mira- 
beau was patrician by birth, but, excluded from 
the ranks of the nobility, he found refuge among 
the deputies of the Third Estate. * He towered in 
intellectual stature above all his colleagues. In that 
gathering there was not so great a man. His spirit 
was proud and lofty, his talents in some directions 
were sublime. When he entered the hall, all eyes 
were turned upon' him, "but his look, his step 
awed the assembly. A bitter smile played on his 
lips, which were habitually contracted by an ironical 
and a scornful expression." His features, scarred 
by the ravages of disease, detracted nothing from 
his unique and commanding personality. His 
heavy shock of black hair resembled the mane of a 


lion, while his piercing eyes flashed fire as he looked 
contemptuously, disdainfully towards the space 
occupied by the nobles. His air of defiance seemed 
to hurl a challenge at the foot of the throne. A 
friend of Mirabeau said it would be to his per- 
sonal interest and advantage to assume a more 
conciliatory manner and added : " If you wish to 
be pardoned, you must ask pardon." Mirabeau, 
in a loud and an excited tone, replied : " I am come 
hither to be asked, not to ask pardon." 

He was the most picturesque figure in the Assem- 
bly. His reputation, his wild career, his escapades, 
his vices, his imprisonments, his love affairs, his 
extravagance, his writings, his eloquence, his 
ability, were known throughout all France. The 
story of his life was an epic. 

Madame de Stael, who saw him in the procession 
of Deputies on the way to say mass in the Church 
of St. Louis on the memorable 4th of May, writes : 
" Among these nobles who had been deputed to the 
Third Estate, above all others was the Comte de 
Mirabeau. The opinion men had of his genius was 
singularly augmented by the fear entertained of his 
immorality; and yet it was this very immorality 
which straitened the influence his astonishing 
faculties were to secure to him. You could not 
but look long at this man when once you had no- 
ticed him; his immense black head of hair dis- 
tinguished him among them all; you would have 
said his force depended on it like that of Samson; 
his face borrowed new expression from its very 
ugliness; his whole person gave you the idea of 
an irregular power, but a power such as you would 


figure in a Tribune of the people." She also saw 
him as he entered the hall of the States General on 
the 5th of May. " He was greeted," she says, 
" with a low murmur. He understood its meaning, 
but stepping along to his seat with lofty air, he 
seemed as if he were preparing thus to produce 
sufficient trouble in the kingdom to confound the 
distinctions of esteem as well as all others." 

Another writer says : " Mirabeau attracted 
everybody's attention. His immense mass of 
hair, his lion-like head stamped with extreme 
ugliness, were astounding, almost frightful. No- 
body could take his eyes off him. He indeed was 
visibly a man, and the others were but shadows. 
Scandalous, noisy, and courageous in vice, the 
world was full of the romance of his adventures, 
amours, and passions. He was about to grow 
young with France and throw aside his old stained 
cloak. He had seriously injured his constitution, 
but he still bore his enormous head erect, and his 
looks were full of audacity. Everybody seemed to 
forebode in him the loud, appalling voice of 

It is remarkable the impression Mirabeau cre- 
ated upon all who saw him. His personality was 
so striking that the strongest men dwindled in 
comparison; in any assemblage he would have 
been the central figure. All the descriptions given 
of the man picture him as the very embodiment of 
force. He commanded attention because of the in- 
nate power that was in him. His spirit was defiant, 
his manner was authoritative, he stood ready to 
meet conditions and to hazard even life and liberty 


in his opposition to tyranny. He had the courage 
and the audacity of the real revolutionist. It would 
have been immeasurably to the advantage of the 
royal cause if he had stood in the ranks of the 
nobles, but his talents would not have shone so con- 
spicuously in defending the crown as in assailing 
it, and in advocating the rights of the people. 

As he stood up and looked over the Assembly, 
his eyes fell upon the king burdened with robes and 
covered with the crown jewels, and turning to 
those near him, he said : " Behold the victim 
already adorned." Could any phrase have more 
aptly suited the occasion and have been more pro- 
phetic in its sense? " Mirabeau," says Madame de 
Stael, " knew everything and foresaw everything." 
And Malouet declared that " He (Mirabeau), per- 
haps alone, had from the beginning a clear con- 
ception of the course the revolution would run." 
Years before it came, he declared that " unless 
some very decisive change take place, Louis XVI. 
will be the last monarch who will sway the fate of 
France." At another time, he wrote : " Should a 
revolution or civil war break out in France, I 
tremble for the aristocratic portion of the realm; 
their chateaux will be reduced to ashes and their 
blood shed in torrents." 

Did this man of prescience look out into the 
future and see the coming events, when he pointed 
to the king as the victim, or was he simply coining 
a phrase to pass current among the people, and to 
suggest to them what should be done if reforms 
were not effected? Even the king must be sacri- 
ficed, if necessary, to secure the rights of the people. 


When we read the story of the French Revolu- 
tion, we find it was a logical sequence of the events 
and conditions that preceded it. It was not the 
work of men, who, as leaders of thought, had de- 
vised a scheme to reform government, or to build 
a free state. It was not so much the result of men's 
efforts as of things, of conditions. We too are 
impressed with the fact that the actors, who at- 
tempted to direct it when it broke upon the nation, 
were, in the vast majority of instances, men of 
small capacity, with but little experience in public 
affairs, and who, as a rule, were mere dreamers, 
theorists, and sentimentalists, or else men whose 
only purpose was to destroy every vestige of the 
old order, without having the slightest idea of 
what they would or should put in its place. ^They 
had no real conception of what they wanted to 
establish, but, regardless of consequences, were 
bent on destroying and tearing down that which 
existed. In the forceful language of Burke: 
' They were the ablest architects of ruin that ever 
the world saw." 

After the Revolution started, it swept on its way 
resistlessly and they were unable to control the 
creature of their own creation. The touch of a 
child may start an avalanche, but only God can 
direct its course. 

" Each member of the Assembly," said Dumont, 
" thought himself equal to any undertaking ; never 
were seen so many men congregated together who 
fancied themselves legislators, capable of repairing 
the faults of the past, finding a remedy for all the 
errors of the human mind, and securing the happi- 


ness of future generations. / Doubt of their powers 
never once found its way into their bosoms, and 
infallibility always presided over their decisions." 

What the delegates lacked in experience they 
made up in sincerity. They were earnestly and 
patriotically devoted to the popular cause. They 
were imbued with the principles of the new philoso- 
phy and had the courage of their convictions. 
They were, however, like sailors afloat on an un- 
known sea without compass, helm, astrolabe, or 
quadrant, unable to take their bearings or their 
soundings. It is marvellous, however, when we 
contemplate the conditions that confronted them, 
what a remarkable voyage these reckless and inex- 
perienced navigators made. 

The meeting of the States General proved that 
the new doctrines of political equality taught by 
the philosophers had taken root. If such a meet- 
ing of the realm had been called in the reign of 
Louis XIV., its counsels would have been perfunc- 
tory and its conduct subservient; it would have 
been awed into subjection by force. 

France was ready, in 1 789, for revolution ; con- 
ditions were ripe ; all the causes and reasons culmi- 
nated at that moment; its coming was inevitable, 
but now its force was irresistible. 

Louis the Great died in 1715 ; the States General 
was convoked in 1789. Three-quarters of a cen- 
tury had been preparing for the event. It would 
have been impossible to have gathered such a class 
of men, so earnest and independent in spirit as the 
deputies of the Third Estate, twenty-five years 
before the States General of 1789 was convened. 
9 129 


The Revolution did produce many able men, but 
there were two of surpassing genius who rose, in 
magnificent intellectual proportions, above all their 
fellows. These were Mirabeau and Napoleon. 
" Both were of the kin of the demi-gods." They 
were born leaders of commanding force and in- 
tellect, but totally different in their characteristics 
and qualities of mind and heart. Mirabeau was 
about twenty years older than Napoleon; the for- 
mer died too soon and the latter came on the scene 
too late to have their careers touch at any point. 
They never met, probably never saw each other, 
but a meeting between them would have been most 
interesting to have observed and recorded. 





BEAU, was born at Bignon, near Nemours, on 
March 9, 1749. " Never since the world began was 
a stranger child born into it." The light of day 
welcomed him just forty years before the convoca- 
tion of the States General. But in that period of 
time his life was so varied and checkered with 
events that it had every feature and phase of a 
thrilling romance. Love, passion, poverty, misery, 
crime, exile, imprisonment, and, at last, a glorious 
opportunity for the exercise of his great talents, 
made up the incidents of his wonderful and exciting 
career. We are almost induced to say that it was 
worth while to have a revolution if for no other 
reason than to furnish a theatre for the display of 
an intellectual power so magnificent, an oratory so 
commanding. " Of a genius," says Carlyle, " equal 
in strength to Napoleon's; but a much humaner 
genius, almost a poetic one. With wider sym- 
pathies of his own, he appeals far more persuasively 
to the sympathies of men." 

" He was a man," writes Mignet, " who only 
waited the occasion to become great. At Rome, in 
the best days of the republic, he would have been a 
Gracchus; in its decline, a Catiline; under the 
Fronde, a Cardinal de Retz ; and in the decrepitude 


of a monarchy, when such a being could only find 
scope for his immense faculties in agitation, he 
became remarkable for the vehemence of his pas- 
sions, and for their punishment, a life passed in 
committing disorders, and suffering for them. 
This prodigious activity required employment; the 
Revolution provided it. Accustomed to the struggle 
against despotism, irritated by the contempt of a 
nobility who were inferior to him, and who ex- 
cluded him from their body; clever, daring, elo- 
quent, Mirabeau felt that the Revolution would be 
his work, and his life. He exactly corresponded 
to the chief wants of his time. His thought, his 
voice, his action, were those of a tribune. In peril- 
ous circumstances, his was the earnestness which 
carries away an assembly; in difficult discussions, 
the unanswerable sally which at once puts an end to 
them ; with a word he prostrated ambition, silenced 
enmities, disconcerted rivalries. This powerful 
being, perfectly at his ease in the midst of agita- 
tion, now giving himself up to impetuosity, now 
to the familiarities of conscious strength, exercised 
a sort of sovereignty in the Assembly. He soon 
obtained immense popularity, which he retained to 
the last ; and he whom, at his first entrance into the 
legislature, every eye shunned, was, at his death, 
received into the Pantheon, amidst the tears of the 
Assembly and of all France. Had it not been for 
the Revolution, Mirabeau would have failed in 
realizing his destiny, for it is not enough to be 
great; one must live at the fitting period." 

The Mirabeaus were a wild, an untamable race, 
proud, audacious, and imperious, but they did not 


have the blood in their veins that they claimed. 
Lamartine, in his history of the Girondists, writes : 
" The family was one of those which Florence had 
cast from her bosom in the stormy excesses of her 
liberty, and for which Dante reproaches his country 
in such bitter strains for her exiles and persecutions. 
The blood of Machiavel and the earthquake genius 
of the Italian republics were characteristics of all 
the individuals of this race. The proportions of 
their souls exceed the height of their destiny : vices, 
passions, virtues are all in excess." This language 
is eloquent and accurately descriptive of the charac- 
teristics of the family and, no doubt, would have 
suited the proud boast of the Riquettis, but it is not 
based on fact, in so far as their origin is concerned, 

" They came from Florence," says Carlyle, " cast 
out of it in some Guelph-Ghibelline quarrel." Jus- 
tin H. McCarthy, in commenting upon this last 
statement, says in his interesting history of the 
French Revolution : " Of the great house of Mira- 
beau, he (Carlyle) seems to have accepted im- 
plicitly the astonishing statements of the family 
and their yet more astonishing pretensions." 

The story that they descended from the Arrighet- 
tis, noble exiles from Florence, who settled in Pro- 
vence in the thirteenth century, is an idle boast, a 
mere fabrication, invented by an ingenious master 
in heraldry, who could most adroitly twist genea- 
logical roots out of their natural courses and skil- 
fully intertwine them one with another. He could 
graft a plebeian branch on a patrician trunk, for 
a sufficient consideration, and conceal from the eyes 
of the uninitiated all traces of the cutting and 


jointure. The name of this swindling herald was 
Jean Baptiste 1'Hermite de Soliers, and his ser- 
vices were secured by Thomas de Riquetti to trace 
the family line, that his son might be admitted into 
the order of the Knights of Malta. 

The Arrighettis of Florence, though far re- 
moved from the Riquettis of Provence, in the mat- 
ter of relationship and blood, were close enough 
phonetically, so far as their names were concerned, 
to serve the purposes of this rogue of a herald, 
and the fiction, pleasing the pride of the Mirabeaus, 
it was accepted by them as a verity, and one may 
well imagine how their anger would have been 
aroused if the slightest intimation had been made 
that the story was not true. No family had greater 
pride of birth and were more presumptuous and 
pretentious upon so small a claim and so dim an 
origin. It is the vice of monarchies that birth 
counts for so much in the measure of merit. 

The boast of Victor, the father of the great 
tribune, that the world had been learning during 
five hundred years to tolerate the Mirabeaus, who 
were not as other men, was without any substan- 
tial foundation, so far as the length of the family 
line was concerned. The statement was made to 
show the antiquity of the lineage rather than to 
regret the vices or excuse the eccentricities of the 

In a letter to the king from the dungeon of Vin- 
cennes, Mirabeau wrote : " I bear a distinguished 
name. It is almost five centuries since my family, 
driven from Italy by the fury of factions, were 
welcomed by your ancestors." The saying of the 


great tribune, that the one blot on the family 
"scutcheon was an intermarriage with the Medici, 
was in the same vein, but the records do not prove 
that there was any such cross in his line, nor any 
such corruption of the family blood. Bad as the 
Medici blood was, it would not have done much 
damage if it had mingled with that of the Mira- 
beaus. At the time the Medici were marrying into 
the families of kings and princes, the Riquettis 
were merchants and traders classed among the 
bourgeoisie in the south of France. 

" Mirabeau," says Dumont, " frequently boasted 
of the exceptional qualities of his race, was proud 
even of their vices, and seemed to take pleasure in 
exaggerating them. He had a son five or six years 
old, whose mother I never knew. This poor boy 
was loved and neglected by his father. * That child,' 
said Mirabeau by way of praise, ' has a very fero- 
cious heart.' He thought that everything con- 
nected with the blood of a Mirabeau would needs 
be extraordinary. Finding the poor child very 
much neglected, I caressed and fondled him and 
was much surprised at seeing this ferocious little 
animal take my hands, not to bite, but to kiss them. 
He appeared to be of an amiable disposition, and 
might easily have been managed with a little affec- 
tionate care." 

MM. Louis and Charles de Lomenie, in their 
most interesting work, " Les Mirabeau," make Jean 
Riquetti, who bought in 1570 the estate and castle 
of Mirabeau, a fief of the old Provencal family of 
Barras, the founder of the house. He was an en- 
terprising merchant of Marseilles, who accumulated 


a fortune trading in coral and in the manufacture 
of fine cloths or " scarlet stuffs." He made an 
advantageous alliance by marrying into an aristo- 
cratic family, and rose in the estimation of his 
fellow-citizens because of the capable manner in 
which he discharged the duties of a municipal 
office. He appears to have been a reputable, con- 
servative, well-to-do citizen, whose success in life 
and elevation to public place did not turn his head. 
In 1660 Thomas Riquetti had the honor and 
special distinction of entertaining in his house, at 
Marseilles, Louis XIV. His son, Honore, was 
created in 1685 Marquis de Mirabeau. From this 
point, the family history is interesting to study be- 
cause it reveals, generation after generation, the 
predominant characteristics of the race, passion 
and intellect, which ultimately found their culmina- 
tion and full development in the subject of this 
sketch. Some were of wild, of untamed blood, 
who offended against all forms ; others were affec- 
tionate, tender, and gentle. Notably among the lat- 
ter was the one known as the bailli, the uncle of the 
great Mirabeau. " In his character," says Von 
Hoist, " is much less base alloy than in that of any 
other member of the family. He is by far the most 
estimable and sympathetic of them all." The 
marquis, in writing to the Comte du Saillant in 
1770, said : " I know my tempestuous race. I have 
seen the youth of the bailli who, during a period of 
four or five years, passed not more than four days 
of the year outside of a gaol, and so soon as re- 
leased, he would indulge in brandy and assault all 
those whom he found in his way, till he was beaten 


and carried to prison. But with all this, he had 
honor to excess, and those who knew him, promised 
my mother that some day he would be an excellent 
man. Notwithstanding this, nobody could arrest 
him in his wild career, but suddenly he reformed 
himself," and the whole tenor of his life was 
changed. " A more gallant, honest, amiable, and, 
indeed, sensible man," says Brougham, " it would 
be hard to find in any circle or in any situation of 
life, brave to a fault, so as even to signalize him- 
self in a country, an age, and a profession where 
the highest valor was epidemical." 

The daughters of the house, in some instances, 
were as mad as the men and had all the vicious 
characteristics of the race. " The women," says 
Lamartine, " are all angelic or perverse, the men 
sublime or depraved." 

The first one of the family who attracted public 
attention was Bruno de Riquetti. He commanded 
a company of musketeers in the reign of Louis 
XIV. He was a hot-blooded, tempestuous sort of 
fellow, a very madcap. He was said by a relative 
" to have had as much wit as courage, but was mad, 
insolent, and vicious." Upon one occasion, he 
chastised an usher of the royal household and 
chased him into the very cabinet of the king. 
When his arrest in consequence was directed, he 
defied the order and swaggered into the royal pres- 
ence to explain the trifling incident. His audacity 
pleased Louis, who forgave him, no doubt be- 
lieving that such a madman had the spirit of a 
valiant soldier and that the clemency and gener- 
osity of the monarch would increase the loyalty and 


devotion of the subject. The leniency, however, 
did not seem to be appreciated, for at another time 
when the court, in a spirit of flattery and adulation, 
was dedicating an equestrian statue to Louis in the 
Place des Victoires, Bruno, with supreme audacity 
and almost in a spirit of contempt, evidently not 
relishing the silly and pompous ceremony, and not 
having much regard for the soldierly qualities of 
Louis, saluted the statue of Henry IV., and then 
cried out : " Friends, we will salute this one, he 
deserves it as well as another." A bold spirit had 
this wild Bruno. 

Jean Antoine, Marquis de Mirabeau, he of " the 
silver stock," was one of the most interesting char- 
acters of his period. He was tall, as straight as 
a pine, and every inch a soldier. He was a choleric, 
a splenetic, an outspoken martinet, who quailed 
neither before man, devil, nor danger. He served 
with great distinction in many campaigns and was 
known as " the right arm" of the Duke of Ven- 
dome. He was a soldier of reckless valor and 
fought, at times, with almost unexampled bravery, 
if we are to believe the history of his life as written 
by his son. Although receiving special mention for 
conspicuous skill and courage on many a field, he 
for some reason or other failed of promotion. Per- 
haps, as one would say in the vulgar parlance of 
to-day, it was owing to the fact that he did not 
have " a pull at the front." 

Vendome, upon one occasion, presented him to 

Louis XIV. and spoke of his valor in terms most 

complimentary, but the old soldier, with his usual 

candor and spleen and want of tact, cut off all 



chance of promotion by telling the king that had 
he left his flag, come up to court and bribed some 
scarlet woman, he might have had his promotion 
and fewer wounds, for, in truth, it is said that 
this old colonel of " the silver stock" had between 
thirty and forty of such decorations, twenty-seven 
of which he had received in one battle in one hour. 

After this remarkable interview, Vendome told 
his friend that hereafter he would present him to 
the enemy, but never to the king. The old colonel 
was wanting in the arts of the courtier and the 
politician, but he had all the sterling qualities of 
the soldier. 

At Cassano, he was left on the field supposed to 
be dead, but as a last precaution, a faithful and 
devoted follower threw over his head a camp ket- 
tle, a curious helmet or morion for an old war- 
rior, but it bravely answered its purpose. Soldiers 
charged and horses galloped over his body, but, 
fortunately, after the battle he was found alive, 
and restored to health by what his biographer calls 
a miraculous operation. He had been shot in the 
neck, " a bullet struck him in the throat and cut 
asunder the jugular vein," but the hemorrhage 
was stopped in time and his life spared. The 
tendons and cords, however, were so weak that 
he was ever afterwards compelled to wear a silver 
stock to hold his proud and haughty head in posi- 
tion. ' This Col d'Argent," in the language of 
Carlyle, " came alive again and holding his head 
up by means of a silver stock, walked this earth 
many long days with respectability, with fiery in- 
trepidity and spleen, and did many other things; 


among others, produced in dignified wedlock, Mira- 
beau, the Friend of Men, who again produced 
Mirabeau, the Swallower of Formulas." 

John Anthony, after his many battles, while rest- 
ing at Digne, met, wooed, and won a beautiful 
woman, Mademoiselle Francoise de Castellane 
Norante. She was rich and well born. He was 
forty-two, she was half his age. He evidently had 
a dread of mothers-in-law, for he insisted upon 
the stipulation, that after his marriage the grand 
old dame, the mother of his wife, should never 
cross the threshold of his home. The marriage 
turned out to be a happy one ; whether or not it was 
owing to the special stipulation can only be guessed. 
It was not only a happy marriage, but a fruitful 
one. His wife bore him six children, five sons and 
one daughter; but three sons survived him. 

The eldest of these sons was Victor Riquetti, 
Marquis de Mirabeau, the father of the Great Tri- 
bune, born at Perthius in 1715. He was educated 
under the severest regime. John Anthony con- 
trolled his children by fear. He kept them at a dis- 
tance, familiarity was out of the question. There 
was never shown a sentiment of love, for that, in 
the opinion of " old silver stock," would have been 
a sign of weakness. He was determined his boys 
should not be milksops, and he trained them as if 
they were whelps. " Honor thy father," was the 
precept that governed in his household, but it never 
occurred to the parent that he should honor the 
child. He thought he owed to his offspring no 
duties other than maintenance and education, and 
in return required grave respect and implicit obedi- 


ence. He was most severe in his judgment, and 
in holding a child to an accountability he neglected 
to take into account the fact that he had transmitted 
to him his bad as well as his good traits. He 
failed, like many other fathers, to remember that 
he was responsible for the child's creation, and that 
his passions were inherited by the child, perhaps 
to an intensified degree and with less power of 
resistance to temptation. 

Victor received his early education at a Jesuit 
College either in Aix or Marseilles. At thirteen 
he entered the army and was attached to the regi- 
ment which his father had formerly commanded. 
In 1731 he was withdrawn from his regiment and 
sent to a military academy in Paris. Here he led 
a wild and riotous sort of life and secured a degree 
of liberty, somewhat unusual for a boy of his years, 
by suppressing a letter of instruction to the school 
authorities, addressed to them by his father. 

He enjoyed a freedom that allowed him to in- 
dulge in all kinds of excesses, and apparently with- 
out the slightest restraint or discipline. The pleas- 
ures of the gay capital specially appealed to him 
and his wild nature led him into all sorts of esca- 
pades, but what he liked best of all was to visit 
the playhouse with his companions and interrupt 
the actors and irritate the audience. 

"In the winter of 1731," says Willert, "a 
strange figure was often to be seen in the pit of 
Parisian theatres, a boy of remarkable beauty, 
with clear-cut features, bold eyes, and hair stream- 
ing in long elf locks below his shoulders, the cross 
of a knight of Malta hanging over his tattered 


clothes, who, with his wild companions, disturbed 
actors and audience by noisy disapprobation and 
tumultuous applause." 

Leaving the footlights, where he mocked the 
players, we next find him at the stage door waiting, 
night after night, for a pretty actress, whose bright 
eyes had set fire to his boyish heart. " Of all the 
pretty women," says McCarthy, " whose names are 
preserved for us in the amorous chronicles of the 
day, few were prettier than the little Dangeville," 
and she it was that caught in her meshes the 
young rogue Victor, but alas! the old Colonel of 
" the silver stock" heard of the affair and straight- 
way the ardent lover was ordered to join his regi- 
ment. The parting was full of tears and vows, but 
time and absence soon healed the broken, bleeding 
hearts. The actress was shortly afterwards won by 
a wealthy nobleman, whom, in time, she ruined, 
and Victor, hearing of her infidelity, declared he 
had dismissed all thought of her. Perhaps! 

His army life did not improve his morals. He 
was exceptionally dissolute, even in that immoral 
age. In writing to a friend, he says : "Sensuality 
is the bane of my imagination. I shall dearly rue 
my follies and that licentiousness which has become 
my second nature." Is it not strange that he did 
not, in after years, forgive the hereditary vices of 
his son, or at least make some allowance for them? 

In 1743, while he was in Paris, he made up his 
mind that he ought to marry an heiress, and his 
choice fell upon a woman whom he had never seen. 
He immediately opened negotiations for her hand, 
and, unfortunately for both of them, was success- 


ful. Their married life was most unhappy. He 
described the twenty years he spent with her as 
twenty years of nephritic colic. 

Marie Genevieve de Vassan, for that was the 
name of the lady, was, at the time of her marriage, 
an ignorant, half-educated, self-willed girl, with 
violent passions. She was vulgar in language and 
immodest in her conduct. Her father was a weak, 
silly man. Her mother had the taint of hereditary 
insanity, and had been confined in a madhouse 
before the birth of her daughter, and, in the lan- 
guage of her son-in-law, " she was the most irri- 
table and irritating woman in the world." We 
must, however, take with a grain of salt all the 
statements made by him in reference to his wife's 
family. He was at all times in such matters a 
severe and often an unfair critic. 

The marquis, at last, suggested a separation, but 
to this the marchioness gave a decided refusal. 
She was induced, however, to go to her mother, 
whose health was failing, and, during her absence, 
her husband discovered evidences of her dishonor 
and shame " over which an honorable man," to 
use his own language, " could not throw his cloak." 
When confronted with indisputable and over- 
whelming proofs of her guilt, she agreed to a sepa- 
ration, and promised, in consideration of the pay- 
ment of an annual allowance, not to come to Paris. 
But her extravagance and passion for gambling 
soon exhausted her income and her creditors began 
to dun the husband. In settling her debts, he paid 
them out of her stipulated allowance. In conse- 
quence, he was charged with neglecting to provide 



sufficient support for his wife and was threatened 
by her relatives with a suit at law for breach of 
contract. A scandal was imminent, and to avoid 
all further annoyance, he summarily settled the 
matter by securing a lettrc dc cachet, under which 
his wife was confined in a convent at Limoges. 

Failing to find happiness in the companionship 
of his wife, he formed a connection, such as was 
common in those days, with a Madame de Pailly, 
a Swiss lady of wit, cleverness, and intelligence, 
and although the forms of propriety were observed, 
the example was none the less injurious and mis- 
chievous to his children, in the matter of their 
home-training and education. 

These were the influences and conditions that 
surrounded the early years of Gabriel and which 
affected a nature that, though passionate and in- 
temperate, was naturally affectionate, generous, 
and sympathetic, and specially susceptible to kind 
and tender treatment. Even his harsh and crabbed 
father, in referring to his disposition, said : " You 
cannot speak to him reproachfully, but his eyes, his 
lips, his color testify that all is giving way; on 
the other hand, the smallest word of tenderness will 
make him burst into tears, and he would fling 
himself into the fire for you." 

The marquis was a man of fine intellect and a 
political economist of distinction. He was a dis- 
ciple of Frangois de Quesnay, one of the most 
eminent economists of the eighteenth century, and 
was the author of a famous work entitled, " L'Ami 
des Hommes; or, Traite de la Population," which 
appeared about 1755. It created a decided sensa- 


tion, although its style has been described as 
" rugged, quaint, and tortuous." Brougham, in 
referring to the literary style of the marquis, says : 
" It is nearly the dullest and most formal and least 
readable in which a Frenchman's thoughts were 
ever conveyed," and yet when he left his pedantic, 
so-called philosophical form and indulged in letter- 
writing " his style is about the very best, the most 
lively, the most entertaining, which, for origi- 
nality, raciness, force, felicity of diction, has 
scarcely a rival." He was the author of twenty- 
two works. Most of them were ephemeral in 
character and are not found to-day even as curi- 
osities on the book-shelves of antiquaries. His 
principal works were : " The Friend of Men," to 
which we have already alluded ; " Theory of Tax- 
ation," " Rural Philosophy," and the " Civil Edu- 
cation of a Prince." He was a constant contribu- 
tor to journals and periodicals on the subject of 
agriculture, although his son at one time intimated 
that his father's practical knowledge on this im- 
portant subject was so limited that he could not 
distinguish rye from wheat. " The Friend of 
Men" was a strange title for one so heartless and 
so unsympathetic as this old ruffian. He was the 
professed friend of men as well as women, but 
the enemy of his family. In theory he was a 
philanthropist, in practice a tyrant. A self-styled 
friend of humanity, he was a cruel master to those 
whom he should have loved. He championed the 
world and abused his own family. He professed 
an affection for mankind and vented his hatred on 
his own flesh and blood. 
10 145 


He wrote a paper on " Lettres de Cachet" in his 
earlier years, in which he denounced in scathing 
terms an arbitrary power which imprisoned, with- 
out hearing or form of trial, innocent men and 
women, who, in many instances, knew neither the 
accusers nor the offences for which they were im- 
prisoned. His inconsistency is shown in that he 
obtained from the ministry, after the publication of 
this work, about fifty-four such letters for the im- 
prisonment of his children and others against 
whom he had personal grievances. 

In referring to this matter in a letter written to 
his brother, the bailli, he says : " Four days ago I 
met Monpezat, whom I have not seen for twenty 
years, and who, like an ass, drew upon himself a 
regular set-down. ' Is your action with Madame 
la Marquise finished ?' he said to me. ' I have 
gained it,' I replied. ' And where is she?' ' In a 
convent.' 'And your son, where is he?' 'In 
a convent/ 'And your daughter in Provence?' 
' In a convent.' ' Have you then contracted to 
people convents ?' ' Yes, sir, and had you been 
my son, you should have been in one long enough 
since.' ' 

The reputation of the old marquis for securing 
lettres de cachet was known throughout all France, 
and his use of these royal warrants became a public 
scandal. Gabriel Honore, at the instance of his 
father, after his release from the dungeon of Vin- 
cennes, requested Maurepas, the minister, to give 
him a lettrc against his sister, Madame de Cha- 
bris, whose wild and shameful conduct had, in the 
opinion of her father, disgraced the name of Mira- 

After a painting by Therese Boucher (1781) 


beau. Maurepas, out of all patience, replied : " It 
is intolerable that there should be no end to the 
scandals in your family. The king will hear no 
more of them." 

In 1760 the Marquis published his " Theorie de 
1'Impot," in which he attacked with all the vehe- 
mence of his nature the Farmers General, and the 
unjust and cruel system of taxation that prevailed 
throughout France. Because of this publication, 
he was arrested for libel and confined for about a 
week in the prison at Vincennes and then exiled 
to his estate at Bignon. 

Carlyle describes him as " on^ of the most singu- 
lar, sublime pedants that ever stepped the soil of 
France. For, withal, there is such genius in him, 
rich depth of character, indestructible cheerfulness 
and health, breaking out in spite of these divorce 
papers, like strong sunlight in thundery weather/' 
It took a man of Carlyle's disposition to appreciate 
and admire the qualities of such a character. 

Vauvenargues, in a letter to the marquis, told 
him that he was " fiery, spiteful, stormier, prouder, 
and more changeable than the sea, thirsting above 
all for pleasure, knowledge, and honors." 

He was a man of irascible temper, unreasonable 
and inconsistent in his conduct, vain, eccentric, im- 
perious, resentful, cruel, and tyrannical. To his 
eldest son, the subject of this sketch, he trans- 
mitted all his passion and his intellect, and the 
conceited old pedant, failing to admire his own 
qualities or excuse his own vices in another, took 
vengeance upon his own creation. 

We have, at some length, described the father 


and the mother of Gabriel Honore Riquetti, Comte 
de Mirabeau, because to understand him, it is neces- 
sary to know something of his parents. We can- 
not fairly judge him unless we study his antece- 
dents, early education, and surroundings. 




THE Mirabeau house at Bignon on the Qth of 
March in the year of our Lord 1 749 was excited in 
expectation of the coming of an heir. The Mar- 
quis for the time being had ceased his fuming and 
fretting and was quietly but anxiously awaiting 
the happening- of the event. There had been a 
son previously born, but he had died when he 
was three years of age; his death had resulted 
from drinking the contents of an inkhorn. The 
father's wish was for a male heir to sustain the 
honor of the family name. The news at last came 
out of the bed-chamber that a son had been born. 
His appearance had startled the nurse, and the doc- 
tor pronounced him a monster. His birth was pro- 
digious; the child's head was so large that his 
mother's life was put in peril. The gossips whis- 
pered that he was born with a mouthful of teeth, 
and stranger still, he is said to have been tongue- 
tied. His father called him " enormous" and 
boasted of his size and " seemed to take a kind of 
pleasure in his great proportions." " Cluck, cluck, 
in the name of all the gods, what prodigy is this 
I have hatched? Web- footed, broad-billed, which 
will run and drown itself if Mercy and the parent 
fowl prevent not!" is the language Carlyle puts into 
the mouth of the old marquis at the moment of the 
child's birth. This misshapen little monster that 


so startled the nurse, amazed the doctor, frightened 
his father, and imperilled his mother's life, was yet 
to terrorize tyrants and aid in the regeneration of 

When about three years of age, he was attacked 
by smallpox, and his mother, under the advice of 
some wiseacre in the neighborhood, applied a salve 
to his features which scarred his face and left 
marks deep and ugly which time and care and 
numerous remedies could never efface. 

The Mirabeaus had been a race of handsome 
men, but the greatest of the line was to be " swart, 
prodigious, patched with foul moles and eye-offend- 
ing marks." In after years, when as deputy in the 
National Assembly his fame had spread through- 
out France, a woman who was an enthusiastic ad- 
mirer wrote to him and requested in her letter a de- 
scription of his appearance. Seizing his quill, he 
wrote : " Dear Madame, imagine a tiger that has 
had the smallpox." 

The father, because of the disfigurement of the 
boy's face, was inconsolable; he stormed and 
fumed in his own wild fashion, and instead of pity- 
ing the child, turned away from him with aver- 
sion. The mother, too, no doubt received her 
share of abuse and denunciation, for the old mar- 
quis spared no one in his unreasonable anger. 

At the age of five Gabriel, while under the care 
of his tutor, M. Poisson, was told to write on what- 
ever came into his head. The little fellow, his 
father said, in a letter written to the bailli dated 
November 29, 1754, wrote literally as follows: 

" Monsieur Me, I beg that you will pay atten- 


tion to your writing and not make blots in your 
copy. Pay attention to what you are doing; obey 
your father, your tutor and your mother; never 
contradict ; no double dealing on the point of honor 
above all. Attack no one, except you are attacked 
yourself. Defend your country. Do not be unkind 
to the servants. Do not be familiar with them. 
Hide the faults of your neighbors, because you may 
want them to do the same for you." Rather a re- 
markable paper for a child so young. 

The boy made marvellous progress in his 
studies, notwithstanding the harsh treatment he 
received. His father's moods were as variable as 
April weather. At one moment the child was en- 
couraged, and the next moment denounced and 
scorned. As time ran on the father's dislike grew 
into a bitter, an implacable hatred that followed the 
boy through life like the curse of fate. He had the 
unyielding, indomitable spirit and the savage nature 
of his race and he stubbornly resented his father's 
cruelty, and yet it must be said to his credit that 
he always retained respect, if not love, for his stern 
and unreasonable parent. 

At twelve, his father said of him : " There is 
a noble heart under the jacket of that bantling. He 
has a strange instinct of pride, but of a generous 
character. This little bit of a man is a bully in a 
flurry and would swallow the whole world before 
he is twelve years old." 

At the age of fifteen he was sent to a school, or 
what we should rather call a corrective or reforma- 
tory institution. It was located in Paris and was 
under the direction of a taskmaster named Cho- 


quard, " a stern man and one who knew when need- 
ful to punish severely." He was an abbe and had 
the reputation of maintaining an educational sys- 
tem so harsh in its methods and administration that 
the most insubordinate spirit could be broken to 
obedience under its discipline. 

The boy was not allowed to bear his family 
name, but was registered in the institution, at his 
father's request, as Pierre Buffiere, a slight, an ig- 
nominy put upon him, that must have irritated his 
proud nature. 

During this period he had so haughty an air 
that the Prince de Conti asked : " What would you 
do if I slapped your face?" He answered : " That 
question might have been embarrassing before the 
invention of pistols for two." 

We may get some idea of the impression Mira- 
beau made upon his school-fellows by reading a 
letter sent by one of them, Lord Minto, to his 
brother Hugh, after meeting Mirabeau in London 
many years after their school-days had ended : " I 
was agreeably surprised by a visit from our old 
and persecuted school-fellow, Mirabeau. I found 
him as ardent a friend as I left him and as little 
altered as possible by twenty years of life, of which 
six have been consumed in prison and the rest in 
personal and domestic trouble. He is as overbear- 
ing in his conversation, as awkward in his graces, 
as ugly and as misshapen in face and person, as 
dirty in his dress, and withal as perfectly suffisant 
as we remember him twenty years ago at school. 
I loved him, however, then and so did you, though, 
as he confesses, you sometimes quarrelled with him, 


being always somewhat less patient in admitting 
extreme pretensions than me." 

While at Choquard's Academy the boy, because 
of his cheerfulness, aptitude, and intelligence, soft- 
ened the heart of his merciless master. He acquired 
the use of four languages, danced gracefully, and 
rode a horse like a Cossack. A brighter pupil never 
sat at a desk. But the regimen of the school, severe 
as it was, did not tame his wild spirit, and so his 
father secured for him a commission in the army. 
Here he got into all sorts of scrapes and any num- 
ber of quarrels ; his temper was hot and hasty, and 
he kept his scabbard empty. Upon the slightest 
provocation he would draw his sword and he was 
most skilful in the use of it. Quarrels, duels, bouts, 
and orgies were daily and nightly incidents in his 
life. To make matters worse, he fell in love with 
a young lady, a policeman's daughter, whom his 
superior officer had endeavored to woo and win. 

The cowardly rival quietly conveyed the in- 
formation to the father of Mirabeau, and the old 
man, as usual, without looking into the facts, waxed 
wroth and threatened vengeance. The result was 
a quarrel, a flight to Paris, an arrest under a lettre 
dc cachet and confinement in a dungeon on the Isle 
of Rhe. The father's letter of introduction to the 
governor of the prison described his son as " hot 
headed, utterly perverse and a liar by instinct." 
Handicapped in this way, he, nevertheless, in a 
short time, won the heart of his gaoler, who, be- 
coming interested in his welfare, personally inter- 
ceded for his pardon. After much entreaty and 
many promises, he was released and again joined a 


regiment, which straightway sailed to Corsica to 
aid in the reduction of that insurgent island. For 
his brilliant and distinguished services in this cam- 
paign he was commissioned captain of dragoons, al- 
though not assigned to any particular command. 
His superior officer declared that he never saw a 
man who evinced a greater aptitude for the science 
of war. 

Upon his return to France his father's heart, for 
a time, seemed softened and he welcomed his boy 
home with some show of affection and allowed him 
to resume the family name, for he had borne the 
pseudonym, Pierre Buffiere, ever since the day he 
had entered Choquard's Academy. 

About this time his father, who was put to his 
wits' ends to restrain him, said : " He is a bottle 
that has been corked and corded for twenty-one 
years. If he is ever uncorked suddenly and without 
great care there will be a fine evaporation." His 
father called him " Whirlwind," and his uncle, the 
bailli, addressed him as " Monsieur le Comte de la 
Bourrasque" (Squall). " Rummage in his head, 
and you will find a library topsy turvy, a talent for 
dazzling by superficialities; he has swallowed all 
formulas and cannot substantiate." 

While on a visit to his father in Provence, he 
met his uncle, the bailli de Mirabeau, who, though 
strongly prejudiced against his nephew, was singu- 
larly impressed with his power and talents, and 
emphatically declared to his brother, the marquis, 
that " If not worse than Nero, he will be better than 
Marcus Aurelius. ... If he is not the cleverest 
imposter in the world, he will be the best material 

After a painting by Aved (1748) 


to be found for pope, commander by sea and land, 
lord chancellor, or even agriculturist. You were 
something at twenty-two, but not half what he is." 
This was pretty positive language for the conceited 
old pedant to hear, especially from so worthy a 
critic, but it in no wise changed his conduct to- 
wards his son. In reply, he told the bailli that he 
must be on guard against the wiles of the rascal 
who, while winning his heart, would, if the oppor- 
tunity occurred, steal his purse. 

About this time, Gabriel went to Paris, where for 
two years he enjoyed the life of a man of the world 
and indulged in every species of dissipation. His 
prodigality, his extravagance surpassed all limits, 
for in the language of the old marquis, " he would 
squander in a week all the treasures of our Lady of 
Loretto." He formed there the friendship of the 
Duke of Chartres, and was the companion of a 
group of wild revellers. 

When presented at court, the young Mirabeau 
bore himself haughtily. " He is as insinuating as 
I was shy," said his father; and when the marquis 
was told of his son's escapades in Paris, he re- 
marked that " he was a wild bird that nested be- 
tween four turrets." I wonder if the father re- 
called his own days of dissipation in the capital? 

" The colt is hard to manage," exclaimed in de- 
spair the old marquis, and so to bridle him he de- 
cided that he should marry, and straightway he 
was directed to sue for the hand of Marie Emilie 
de Covet, an heiress. There was some opposition 
upon the part of the young man, but he soon felt 
the force of his father's will, and yielded. She was 


the only daughter of the Marquis de Marignane, 
and was described in a letter written by Mira- 
beau's sister as " hideous and very short." This 
description, however, was not doing the young 
woman full justice, for although her face was 
rather ordinary she had fine eyes, fine hair, a pleas- 
ing smile, figure small but agreeable. She showed 
great sprightliness of mind, was delicate, lively, 
sportful. Her temper, when aroused, was violent. 
Her language, at times, was coarse, and her stories 
broad. She had a taste for music, was given to ex- 
travagance, and had a passion for gambling. This 
was a fine pair to yoke together under a stingy 
allowance ! 

Mirabeau wooed and, as usual, won. He was 
disappointed in the amount of the dowry she 
brought him, for her penurious father gave her a 
very small dot. Immediately, because of his ex- 
travagant habits, Mirabeau became involved in 
debt, which so enraged his father that the prodigal, 
under a lettrc de cachet, was confined within the 
limits of the little drowsy town of Manosque. Here 
he lived with his wife and child upon an annual 
stipend of two hundred and fifty pounds. During 
this period of poverty and privation he wrote his 
essay on Despotism, a work " full of fire, rough 
vigor, and still worth reading." 

Chafing under the yoke of his marriage as well 
as the restraint imposed by the order of exile, Mira- 
beau longed for change and excitement. Two little 
adventures add spice to the story. His wife was 
given to coquetry. She was one of those silly women 
who live on admiration and who accept attention 


whenever, wherever, and by whomever given. She 
flirted with a Provencal dandy named Gassaud- 
The correspondence was discovered, Mirabeau flew 
into a rage, demanded satisfaction, a duel was 
threatened, but was avoided by the earnest appeals 
of the dandy's father. Peace was restored, and 
Mirabeau even went so far in his generosity as to 
beg the family of the young lady to whom Gas- 
saud was affianced to forgive the derelict, and once 
more restore him to favor. All the country-side 
had heard of Chevalier Gassaud's peril, and be- 
cause of his conduct his fiancee's family had de- 
cided to break off the engagement, upon which 
was depending a fine marriage settlement. 

While Mirabeau was returning from his errand 
of mercy, he met on the king's highway a certain 
Baron de Villeneuve-Moans. An old score had to 
be settled, for the baron, upon a certain occasion 
in a public promenade, had insulted sister Chabris. 
The baron refused to fight, whereupon Mirabeau 
seized the whip out of the socket of the baron's gig 
and took satisfaction to the full. A complaint was 
lodged against Mirabeau and a lettre de cachet hur- 
ried him away to the Chateau dTf. A year later he 
was transferred by his father's orders to the Fort- 
ress of Joux in the mountains of the Jura. Here 
he met at Pontarlier, a small town a short distance 
from the castle, Sophie de Monnier, and at first 
sight it was love in earnest. It would have been 
far better for both Sophie and Gabriel if he had 
been confined more closely in the donjon, or if the 
limit of his parole had fallen about a mile short of 
the town of Pontarlier. 



To a man with passions as strong and as con- 
suming as Mirabeau's, it is difficult to distinguish 
between love and lust. Of course, love is not all 
reason, nor is it all emotion and passion, for if it 
be the latter it disappears as soon as emotion van- 
ishes and passion subsides. There is no question, 
however, but that during this period Mirabeau's 
affection for Sophie was sincere and deep. 

Mirabeau was constantly in love, but he could 
not truthfully be called a constant lover. Sophie 
de Monnier, for whom he suffered and to whom he 
ardently protested his undying love and poured out 
the affection of his soul, faded almost completely 
out of his mind and recollection in, comparatively, 
a very short time. 

He loved the sex rather than a woman. As we 
read the story of his love affairs, we are convinced 
that he delighted in the excitement of the chase. 
He rejoiced in the pursuit rather than in the posses- 
sion. His passion or, if you prefer to designate it, 
his love increased proportionately as its object was 
difficult to reach or attain. Rivals and stone walls 
only intensified the ardor of his desire. Perhaps, 
however, among men, this is not an exception to the 
general rule. " L'amour rendait la victoire plus 
difficile pour en augmenter le prix," writes Mira- 
beau in one of his letters to Sophie. 

Mirabeau was conscious of the influence he had 
over women and he often wantonly exerted it in 
the sheer pride of his strength. He delighted to 
have the world hear of his amours and his con- 
quests, for they added to his reputation and re- 
vealed an innate power in a man who, though ugly 


and scarred in visage, could fascinate the loveliest 
woman. He was proud of his reputation in these 
matters, and he could afford to be, for it was an 
age when commendation followed success; men 
were ridiculed for their blunders rather than de- 
nounced for their vices. 






SOPHIE DE MONNIER was just out of her teens 
when she married a man seventy-five years of age, 
" gray, old and sapless." He was a president of the 
Parliament of Besanqon, a man of affluence, posi- 
tion and quality. The wealth of the aged suitor 
was too much of a temptation for the family of 
Sophie to resist, and she had to choose between a 
marriage and a convent. How much happier she 
would have been had she chosen the latter the story 
of her life will tell. 

Mirabeau when at Joux had leave to extend 
his walk as far as the town of Pontarlier, and he 
was welcomed as a guest in the household of M. 
Monnier. It is unnecessary to say that he charmed 
all the inmates and specially fascinated the young 
and beautiful wife. But he had a rival more ob- 
servant and jealous than the blind, confiding hus- 
band. The commandant of the fortress of Joux, 
almost as old as M. Monnier, whose love for women 
and attention to them had become a habit, and 
whose gallantry had outlived his passion, had more 
than once cast his eyes on Sophie, and the vain, 
conceited old soldier believed, before the arrival of 
Mirabeau, that the outer fortress had been taken. 



He quietly wrote a complaining letter to Mira- 
beau's father, who, always ready to believe any ill 
report spoken of his son, gave orders to confine 
him more strictly and under closer guard. No 
plan could have been adopted that would have so 
inflamed the passions of the lovers and increased 
their longings. 

Mirabeau, watching his opportunity, escaped the 
prison and fled to Switzerland. Hunted by the 
police and the emissaries of his implacable father, 
he managed to elude their vigilance. He succeeded 
in communicating with Sophie and arranged the 
plans for an elopement. In the darkness of a sultry 
August night she, in male attire, scaled the garden 
walls that surrounded her husband's home and hur- 
ried away to meet her lover at the nearest place on 
the Swiss frontier. Together they fled to Holland. 

Here in the city of Amsterdam they lived in a 
humble tenement, a garret, some say, and suffered 
the stings of hunger and misery. He worked for 
Dutch publishers and toiled far into the night to 
earn a pittance for the bare necessaries of life. 
" Sophie sews and scours beside him with her 
soft fingers, not grudging it." But they were 
happy, and love made their burdens light. In 
referring to this period in one of his letters to 
Sophie, he says : " Study occupied nearly all my 
time, and a man who was double my age might 
have been less sedentary, this thy love remembers. 
I had, at times, involuntary outbursts of vivacity 
and impatience, which thou mightst have taken for 
ill humor; but one of thy % kisses ever restored 
serenity to my countenance and peace to my spirit, 
ii 161 


. . . An hour of music delighted me, and my ador- 
able companion, though nourished and bred in opu- 
lence, was never so gay, so courageous, so atten- 
tive, so affable, so tender, as in poverty, her un- 
changeable warm-heartedness displayed itself to its 
utmost. We did not appear like an insensate couple 
whom a passing madness had driven from their 
country and indeed we were not such." 

And Sophie writes, in answer : " Thou didst re- 
fuse my caresses for fear that they might make thee 
forget thy books ; but with what rapture didst thou 
not return shortly, with what transport did I not 
hold thee in my arms! How often didst thou not 
tear thyself from these arms to fly to thy labor, to 
thy tedious occupations; but nothing was weari- 
some to thee if it brought comfort to thy Sophie. 
Ah, dearest, truly thou wast the model of true 

For eight months their happiness continued, 
and it might have lasted longer had it not been for 
the fact that Mirabeau, while divorce proceedings 
were pending between his parents, wrote a scath- 
ing, scurrilous pamphlet against his father, in which 
he held the vain old pedant up to public ridicule and 
contempt by describing him as a humbug, a hypo- 
crite, and a tyrant. The lawsuit pending between 
the marquis and his wife was a wretched scandal 
and their impetuous son must needs take part in it, 
and having once before denounced his mother, he 
thought it his duty to balance the account by abus- 
ing his father. The pamphlets were shipped into 
France and the person to whom they were con- 
signed kindly sent a copy to the marquis who, of 


course, fumed and boiled with rage and straight- 
way started in pursuit of his son. 

The obdurate, implacable, relentless old man 
never gave up the hunt until his bloodhounds 
scented and ran down the quarry. It was all over 
with the lovers; they were discovered just as they 
were making preparations to escape to America. 
What would have been the trend of the French 
Revolution had Mirabeau been out of it? 

Gabriel and Sophie were parted, vowing eternal 
love and fidelity. Tears and lamentations expressed 
the anguish of their hearts, for the future held no 
hope for them, all was darkness and despair. 
Mirabeau was sent to the dungeon at Vincennes, 
and Sophie to an asylum for women in Paris. 

After the abduction of Sophie her husband, M. 
Monnier, instituted formal proceedings against her 
and Mirabeau, and on the loth of May, 1777, the 
tribunal of the bailiwick of Pontarlier decreed 
Mirabeau " guilty of abduction and seduction" and 
condemned him to be beheaded in effigy, to pay a 
fine of five livres to the state and forty thousand 
livres to the injured husband. Sophie was found 
guilty of being abducted and seduced and was sen- 
tenced to perpetual imprisonment in the House of 
Correction at Besangon, to be shaved and to forfeit 
all her rights and privileges of every kind, her mar- 
riage portion going to M. Monnier. St. Pelagic, a 
house for common prostitutes, had been selected 
for Sophie, but through the intercession of friends 
she was confined in a house of correction for re- 
spectable but " erratic ladies," kept by Mademoi- 
selle Douay in the Rue de Charonne in Paris ; she 


was registered under the name of Madame de 
Courviere. While in this institution she won the 
affection of every one with whom she came in 

Mirabeau remained in the prison at Vincennes 
for forty-one months, from August, 1777, to De- 
cember, 1780. It was in this dungeon that the 
seeds of death were sown in his body, for during 
his imprisonment he was frequently attacked by 
disease. His confinement at first was very severe. 
His cell was but ten feet square and was without a 
fireplace. He was allowed only one hour a day for 
exercise and fresh air. He was half fed and with- 
out a change of clothes for months at a time. In 
the meanwhile his child by his wife had died and 
also his daughter by Sophie. The old marquis, 
fearing that the name of Mirabeau might become 
extinct, consented to his son's release. 

" Oh ! there you are again," said the bailli to 
his brother the marquis, " with your posteromania 
(a longing for posterity), hard at work tutoring 
a game-cock of thirty-three! A nice task it is to 
undertake the rounding of a character that is only 
a hedgehog, all points and all too little body." 

If it had not been for fear of the extinction of his 
line it is questionable whether or not " The Friend 
of Men" would ever have allowed his son to emerge 
from the dungeon. 

Mirabeau surely gave no promise at this time of 
his future greatness. He emerged from the prison 
broken in body and with his sight greatly impaired. 
Notwithstanding the enormous strength of his con- 
stitution, further confinement, he said, would have 


completely wrecked his health. " So, what Mira- 
beau was for his family in 1781," says Victor 
Hugo, " was an abortive man, a hackled creature, 
a fellow with whom nothing could be done, a head 
good to get broken by the insurgents and a scourge 

His imprisonment, however, was not without its 
benefits, for during its continuance he devoted his 
time to study; he was an omnivorous reader and 
devoured everything that fell into his hands. He 
was, unconsciously, preparing himself for the 
events that were coming on. Disgraced, impris- 
oned, his name a by-word, no one at this moment 
would have thought that in a decade of years he 
would direct the destinies of France, and that his 
death would be mourned by a sorrowing nation. 
His death in 1781 would have received hardly a 
passing notice, but " ten years later an immense 
crowd, gloomy, silent, profoundly sad, thronged the 
approaches of his house where he lay in his last 

After Mirabeau was released from his imprison- 
ment at Vincennes, Sophie was given a greater de- 
gree of liberty and she was permitted to receive vis- 
itors in the convent. Among those whom she met 
was a certain M. de Rancourt, who perhaps was 
more attentive than he should have been under the 
circumstances. Mirabeau heard of these visits, 
and Sophie, in her correspondence, not making any 
reference to them, he became suspicious and jealous 
and wrote some severe letters complaining of her 
conduct. Instead of explaining matters she, in an- 
swer, upbraided him for his inattention and dere- 


lictions, and thus only increased the anger of her 
old lover. 

Mirabeau and Sophie met but once after their 
arrest in Holland, and the interview was had some- 
time after his release from Vincennes. Rumor, in 
the meanwhile, had been at work, and Mirabeau, 
jealous and unreasonable, would listen to no ex- 
planation, and for all time they parted, never again 
to meet on this earth, with anger in his heart and 
remorse in hers. 

There were two principal reasons for this 
breach. In the first place, no doubt, Mirabeau's 
ardor had cooled. Time, absence, and baseless 
rumors had played havoc with his affections. In 
the second place, he was more anxious to secure 
kindly recognition from his father than to hold the 
love of his mistress. 

He who had written in his dungeon that " time 
ought not to diminish love," he who had appealed 
to his mistress to be ever constant to her faithful 
Gabriel, declaring that he adored and would ever 
adore her, forgot the meaning of those burning 
words. His treatment of Sophie was cruel, heart- 
less, without excuse. For him she had sacrificed 
all that is dear to woman ; her reputation, her 
honor, her virtue. She had abandoned home, 
friends and country ; she had suffered poverty, 
exile and imprisonment, and her reward was the 
scorn and indifference of a lover whose ardor had 

Sophie, after the final separation from Mirabeau, 
lived in a convent for several years. Her old hus- 
band, M. Monnier, died. With him she had never 


been reconciled. For a long time she brooded over 
the rupture with Mirabeau, for in him all her real 
affection was centred. She afterwards, unfortu- 
nately, fell in love with a gentleman named de Pote- 
rat, who had suffered a disappointment in a love 
affair, and just on the eve of their marriage he 

In 1789, in September of that year, the year in 
which the States General met and when Mirabeau's 
name was resounding throughout France, poor So- 
phie, tired of life, ended it by inhaling the fumes 
of a charcoal fire. She paid the full penalty of her 
sin. She had eaten her bitter bread in sorrow sea- 
soned only with the salt of her tears. Pity and 
charity drew a veil over her one great indiscretion 
and left her alone to God's tender mercy. 

The news of her death was brought to Mirabeau 
while he was in the Assembly. He rose and imme- 
diately left the hall; the shock, perhaps, revived 
for a time the spark that was concealed in the cold 
ashes of an almost forgotten love. 

While at Vincennes, Mirabeau wrote his cele- 
brated letters to Sophie. The superintendent of po- 
lice, Lenoir, pitied the lovers and permitted them 
to write to each other under the condition that he 
should see their correspondence. The letters re- 
mained in the archives of the police until they were 
stolen by Manuel, Procureur of the Commune of 
Paris, and were published after Mirabeau's death 
in 1792, under the direction of the thief, who stated 
in the preface that " II se felicite d'avoir ete 1'un 
des administrateurs de la police pour venger la me- 
moire d'un grand homme. Sans moi ces lettres se 


seraient separees et perdues sous la main dedaig- 
neuse des geoliers et des commis." 

Mirabeau, fearing that they would be published, 
wrote in December, 1778: " Some monsters who 
infest the streets of Paris, whilst many honest men 
are groaning at Bicetre and in the galleys, threaten 
that they will print my correspondence and that of 
the unhappy victim of my love. This is dreadful to 
contemplate and if I survive it, it will be to avenge 

Besides the letters that passed through the hands 
of Lenoir there was also a secret correspondence 
carried on between the lovers, the letters being con- 
veyed by the turnkeys of the prison, whose hearts 
had been touched by Mirabeau's distress and whose 
palms had been tickled with his coin. Many of 
these letters came into the possession of Montigny, 
the adopted son of Mirabeau, who, after destroy- 
ing a number of them, placed the remainder in the 
hands of M. de Lomenie. It is surprising that he 
did not see the propriety of consigning them all to 
the flames. 

The mother and the creditors of Mirabeau en- 
deavored to prevent the publication of the letters by 
Manuel, but lost the suit. They had an enormous 
sale. Garat paid them the homage of a serious, sol- 
emn criticism in his chair at the Lycee, and charged 
Mirabeau with gross plagiarism, declaring that 
he had copied whole passages from the novels and 
the periodicals of the day. " This correspondence," 
says Dumont, " evinced more of sensuality than 
sentiment. Many of his letters are so repugnant 
to modesty that they degrade the person to whom 


they are addressed, for no man would presume 
to adopt so licentious a style in writing- to a 
woman for whom he had the least esteem." 
La Harpe declared they revealed the real life 
of Mirabeau, and further added : " They are not 
memoirs written for the public, nor are they con- 
fessions; they are written in a dungeon to a mis- 
tress, and, passing through the hands of a judge, 
ought never to have been seen by others ; and with- 
out the hazard of the Revolution, it is probable they 
would never have reached the light of day." Victor 
Hugo calls them " eloquent letters in which Mira- 
beau's real self is speaking, rather than writing." 
Carlyle says, " They are good letters of their kind, 

The letters were the outpourings of a heart 
amorous and sensuous; they expressed the long- 
ings of a lover who had been suddenly torn from 
his mistress and immured in a dungeon. In de- 
spair, at times without hope, he allows his passion 
to blind his reason. It seems impossible that he 
could have written, for instance, the letter dated in 
August, 1777, referring to a meeting in the house 
of Dame Barbaud at Pontarlier, especially in view 
of the fact that it was to pass under the eyes of a 
stranger. The letter of August 27, 1777, has very 
much the flavor of a celebrated letter written by 
Abelard to Heloise, and burns with passionate 

The correspondence becomes monotonous and at 
times nauseating. It is wanting in the expression 
of true esteem and lofty regard for pure woman- 
hood. It displays no philosophical fortitude under 


adversity. At times, like a wild beast, Mirabeau 
chafes against the bars of his cage and longs more 
for the body of his mistress than for her sympathy 
and companionship. 

It was while lying in the dungeon at Vincennes 
that Mirabeau wrote his celebrated work, entitled 
" Inquiries concerning Lettres de Cachet and State 
Prisons," subjects with which he was very familiar 
because of his personal experiences. The work ex- 
hibited an accurate and a profound knowledge of 
the constitutional history of France. It proved, 
from the legal point of view, that the practice of 
issuing these letters was unwarranted, that the 
abuse had grown up without any authority of law, 
that it was an exercise of mere arbitrary power, 
and that from every humane and philosophical con- 
sideration, it was unjust and iniquitous. The work 
was characterized by his style, which was often dif- 
fuse, at times declamatory, but always eloquent. 
He wrote as one who had suffered and was suffer- 
ing ; he argued with the zeal and the enthusiasm of 
an advocate, but reasoned with the wisdom of a 
judge. The book created a great sensation through- 
out France, had an immense circulation, and was 
translated into English, with a dedication to the 
Duke of Norfolk, in the year 1788. It revealed the 
odious practice in its most hideous features and 
aroused among all classes the most violent opposi- 
tion to its further continuance. It was not, how- 
ever, until January, 1790, that the evil was formally 
abolished. In March of that year all prisoners con- 
fined under these summary processes were given 
their liberty. One can hardly imagine anything 


more odious and unjust in the exercise of tyranny 
than the use of these sealed royal letters, by which 
men were arrested and committed without any 
form of trial or hearing, and without knowing their 
accusers, and without being informed of the nature 
and character of the charges. 

Richelieu and Mazarin, during their administra- 
tions, frequently used these letters to suppress oppo- 
sition and to dispose of their enemies. Parliaments 
protested, but in vain. It was too useful a method 
in the policy of tyrants to be abandoned. 

Louis XIV. claimed the right to their use, as he 
declared, " for the public good and the interests of 
families." It was his custom to sign a number of 
these letters in blank and his ministers gave them 
to those persons who had sufficient influence to se- 
cure them. They were used, in many instances, to 
satisfy private hate and personal grievances. Fath- 
ers obtained them for the confinement of wayward 
and spendthrift sons; jealous lovers who wanted 
rivals out of the way found them very useful ; faith- 
less wives, that their amours might not be inter- 
fered with, disposed of their suspicious and inquisi- 
tive husbands by means of these infamous war- 
rants. The husband of a pretty wife, who stood in 
the way of a courtier's desire, would suddenly be 
missed from his accustomed haunts, and the places 
that had known him would know him no more 

Arthur Young, in his interesting and thoughtful 

observations on the French Revolution, says: 

" They (lettres de cachet} were certainly carried 

to an excess hardly credible ; to the length of being 



sold, with blanks, to be filled up with names at the 
pleasure of the purchaser." To this statement he 
subjoins the following in a footnote : " An anec- 
dote which I have from an authority to be de- 
pended on will explain the profligacy of govern- 
ment, in respect to these arbitrary imprisonments. 
Lord Albemarle, when ambassador to France, 
about the year 1753, calling one day on the minister 
for foreign affairs, was introduced for a few min- 
utes into his cabinet while he finished a short con- 
versation in the apartment in which he usually re- 
ceived those who conferred with him. As his lord- 
ship walked backwards and forwards in a very 
small room (a French cabinet is never a large one), 
he could not help seeing a paper lying on the table, 
written in a large, legible hand, and containing a 
list of the prisoners in the Bastile, in which the first 
name was Gordon. When the minister entered 
Lord Albemarle apologized for his involuntarily 
remarking the paper ; the other replied that it was 
not of the least consequence, for they made no 
secret of the names. Lord A. then said that he 
had seen the name of Gordon first in the list, and 
he begged to know, as in all probability the person 
of this name was a British subject, on what account 
he had been put into the Bastile. The minister told 
him that he knew nothing of the matter, but would 
make the proper inquiries. The next time he saw 
Lord Albemarle he informed him that, on inquiring 
into the case of Gordon, he could find no person who 
could give him the least information ; on which he 
had Gordon himself interrogated, who solemnly 
affirmed that he had not the smallest knowledge nor 


even suspicion of the cause of his imprisonment, 
but that he had been confined thirty years; how- 
ever, added the minister, I ordered him to be imme- 
diately released, and he is now at large. Such a 
case wants no comment." 

To so great an extent had the evil grown that 
the virtuous Turgot and Malesherbes refused to 
take office under Louis XVI. unless it was agreed 
that they should not be required to countersign any 
letter without first being informed of its contents 
and purpose and the name of the person against 
whom it was directed. 

After Mirabeau's release from Vincennes, he 
was controlled by an overweening desire to please 
and pacify his father, and this desire, strange to 
say, influenced his every thought and action. His 
affectionate regard for his father, under the cir- 
cumstances, was most remarkable. In all his cor- 
respondence and publications at this time, there is 
not one harsh phrase recorded, with the exception 
of the remark made after his release from Vin- 
cennes, when he complained bitterly that his father 
hoped to starve him to death since he could not 
hope to make him rob on the highway. 

And yet, from his very childhood, his father had 
slighted and tormented him, despised and de- 
nounced him, hunted and imprisoned him. He 
saw a younger brother caressed, favored, and re- 
warded, a brother, too, whose qualities were mean 
in comparison with his, and yet, marvellous to re- 
late, notwithstanding this treatment and these con- 
ditions, Mirabeau held his father in high regard and 
respect. He was honest enough to admit that his 


father's treatment of him was justified by his wild 

After his release from Vincennes, while he was 
visiting his brother-in-law, he saw hanging on the 
wall a portrait of his father. He stopped before 
it, and looking at it intently for a long time, tears 
came to his eyes, and he exclaimed, his voice chok- 
ing with emotion : " My poor father !" and then 
passed on. Such an affection ought to have been 
early nurtured. 

While Mirabeau was in the dungeon at Vin- 
cennes and when he had evidently given up all hope 
of release, he placed in the hands of his friend, M. 
Boucher, a sealed package containing letters, with- 
out date, addressed to Sophie, to his mother, his 
father, his brother, and to M. Lenoir. The destina- 
tion of these letters was known to M. Boucher, but 
he was requested not to open the package until 
after Mirabeau's death. The letter to his father 
is couched in the most affectionate terms and re- 
veals a forgiving disposition and a most contrite 
spirit : 

" My father, when you receive this letter I shall 
be no more. The Supreme Judge will have either 
absolved or condemned me, but before appearing 
at His tribunal I feel it my duty to ask of you par- 
don for my faults, and it is from the depth of my 
heart that I bitterly regret the anxiety that they 
have given you. Efface from your memory these 
many errors of youth for which I have made some 
expiation by so many years of continual misfor- 
tune and of the most terrible captivity. But deign 
to believe that my sufferings have never driven 


from my heart the sentiments of tenderness and re- 
spect which I owe to you. Yes, my father, although 
convinced that you have oppressed me, I swear to 
you, I have never thought, as you have published, 
nor complained against you, nor made myself a 
party in the divorce proceedings of my mother. 
The frankness with which I desire to express to 
you my thought at a time when I have no need of 
the assistance of any one, but only for the satisfac- 
tion of my conscience, ought to convince you of 
the truth of my protestations. I am far from wish- 
ing to recriminate, O, my father ! against any one, 
whoever he may be. I write to you, on the con- 
trary, with the conscience of a guilty man who ac- 
cuses himself and demands mercy from his judge. 
Refuse me not then this last request, and if there 
remain a sentiment of pity for me, bear in mind 
that I leave in the world an unfortunate child, who 
in no wise is responsible for my faults, who carries 
your blood in her veins, and who has, I believe, no 
other support nor succor than that of your commis- 
eration. Alas! I have caused the ruin of the 
mother, is it necessary to reproach me with the 
misery of the daughter to whom the misfortune 
of her birth will count for so much, something for 
which she herself is in no way responsible? O, my 
father ! I have no son, can you not have some regard 
for the little one that I leave behind? I dare to 
conceive a hope and it softens my regrets and my 
fears. These are the ardent aspirations of your 

Surely here may be discovered a spirit of contri- 
tion ; a heart without bitterness, rancor or hate. 


Mirabeau, through the intercession of friends, 
was at last accorded an interview with his father, 
and a partial reconciliation was effected. In a let- 
ter to his brother, the bailli, the marquis gives the 
following description of the meeting : " Boucher 
and the family suddenly brought me Honore, and 
as he knelt upon the ground, the chevalier (de 
Scepeaux) embraced me, saying, ' This is the 
prodigal son.' I said to Honore, giving him my 
hand, that I had long since pardoned the enemy, 
that I was giving my hand to a friend, and that one 
day I hoped to be able to bless the son." He then 
described his son, whom he had not seen for years, 
as follows : " I have found him much stouter, 
especially about the shoulders, neck and head. He 
has our figure, construction and manner, except 
his own mercurial temperament; his locks are 
very beautiful, his eyes also, his forehead is open ; 
he is much less studied in accent than formerly, 
but rather so yet, of a natural air otherwise and 
much less ruddy; beyond this, he is as you have 
seen him." 

After Mirabeau's release from the castle of Vin- 
cennes he stood trial at Pontarlier under the charge 
of rape and seduction of Madame de Monnier and 
was acquitted in 1782. 

The argument he made in his own defence was 
pronounced one of the ablest ever heard in the 
courts of France. By sheer force of intellect " he 
made the worse appear the better reason." He 
bore down all opposition before him. The very 
audacity, the sublime assurance and insolence of the 
advocate startled but dominated and persuaded the 


minds of his judges. Having once been beheaded 
in effigy for his crime he secured, when he stood 
before his accusers in the flesh, not only an ac- 
quittal, but a marvellous personal triumph. 

Turning from this great success, he hurried to 
Aix to plead for the return of his wife, but in this 
effort he was foiled. His ardor, his pathos, his 
fiery demands and tender appeals availed not, " his 
cause was untenable." Four out of the eight judges 
were near relatives of the Marquis of Marignane. 

"On the day of the great spectacle the intoxi- 
cated crowd, although the guard had been trebled, 
occupied and smashed doors, barriers, windows, 
everything, even on the roofs they sat, to see him, 
at least, if they could not hear him, and it is a pity 
that they did not all hear him, for he has spoken so 
much, howled so much, roared so much, that the 
mane of the lion was white with froth and the per- 
spiration dripped from it." 

Although defeated in his suit, he succeeded in 
establishing his reputation as the first orator of 
France. He was pitted against the leading advo- 
cates of the bar of Provence, a bar that stood ex- 
ceptionally high. The ablest counsel had been re- 
tained by the Marignane family, and yet Mirabeau, 
not a trained lawyer, did not hesitate to enter the 
lists in advocacy of his own cause. During the 
trial he and his father were unjustly and most sav- 
agely assailed by Portalis, a leading advocate on 
the other side, and one of the most brilliant law- 
yers in France; but so intense, so impassioned was 
the language of Mirabeau in reply, so withering 
in its scorn, so vehement in denunciation, that 

12 177 


Portalis was carried " fainting and shattered" from 
the court-room. It is said, too, that Mirabeau's 
appeals, at times, were so pathetic that the Marquis 
de Marignane, the father of his wife, was over- 
come with emotion and wept. 

Mirabeau's uncle, the bailli, was present at the 
trial, and in giving an account of the eloquence of 
his nephew, said: ' The count pleaded yesterday; 
there was, as you would imagine, a crowd. Marig- 
nane was there; at the commencement he tittered, 
at the middle he bent his head, they even assured 
me he finished by weeping, as did the greater half 
of the audience. Marignane, in going out, said, 
' He has pleaded with much gentleness and moder- 
ation' ; and in reality this man, made for desperate 
things, found the secret of administering lots of 
soft sawder to his father-in-law, to his wife, and 
to praise them much, although at the same time 
making them appear absurd." 

The father of Mirabeau, with his usual acridity, 
referred to the magnificent effort of his son as the 
speech of " a chatterbox and a noodle" ("un 
claque-dents et un fol"). 

But all this eloquence and effort went for naught. 
Mirabeau lost his cause, his wife, and, worse than 
all for him, the control of her estate. 

The story of the life of Mirabeau's wife is worth 
a passing notice. After the court decided in her 
favor at Aix, several attempts were made by 
friends to bring about a meeting and a reconcilia- 
tion between her and her husband, but these efforts 
met with no success. After the death of Mirabeau 
she emigrated with her father to avoid the violence 


of the Revolution and spent several years abroad 
in great poverty and distress. She married the 
Count of Rocca, an officer in the Sardinian army, 
and, in 1796, returned to France. The following 
year her husband died and she opened a corre- 
spondence with Mirabeau's sister, Madame du 
Saillant, whom she subsequently visited at Paris, 
and with whom she took up her residence in the 
Hotel Mirabeau. The remainder of her life she 
consecrated to the memory of her illustrious hus- 
band. She occupied his chamber, which she deco- 
rated with busts, portraits, and souvenirs of the 
great tribune, whom, in life, she had deceived and 
neglected. A silly woman, she doted on the mem- 
ory of a man whose days she had embittered. She 
was proud of his marvellous career, and thought 
it reflected upon her, as his wife, some little glory. 
Her repentence was late, it was not induced by 
love, but vanity. 





WHEN Mirabeau's fortunes were at their lowest 
ebb he met a beautiful young woman who came 
into his life unexpectedly. She was the natural 
daughter of a Dutch gentleman and was living 
upon an annuity that had been left to her by her 
father. She had been educated in France, and was 
a woman of refinement and culture, and of a most 
philosophic turn of mind. Henriette Van Haren, 
or, as she was called, Madame de Nehra, the 
latter name formed by a transposition of the let- 
ters in Haren, had no relatives, and no con- 
scientious scruples about forming an alliance with 
a man whom she could not take as husband. She 
says, in a feeble attempt to excuse her conduct, 
that she felt it her duty to sacrifice herself in 
order to save him. " I vowed to live for him 
alone, to follow him everywhere, to brave all, if I 
could be of use to him in good fortune or in bad. 
I sacrificed my quiet life to share the storms of 
his adventurous existence." She asserts that she 
was not blinded by passion, but was controlled by 
lofty sentiment. " When I first met him," she 
writes, " I thought his appearance most unpleasing ; 
I started back with repulsion. But, like many 



From an old print 


others, I not only by degrees became accustomed 
to his features, I even came to think them well 
suited to his genius. His countenance was expres- 
sive, his mouth charming, his smile very attrac- 

For five years the companionship continued, and 
during that period she exerted a remarkable in- 
fluence over him. His letters to her are such as a 
man would have written to a woman for whom he 
had the highest regard. They are very unlike the 
correspondence with Sophie de Monnier. 

" Dear love," he says, " I have had only one 
really happy day in my life, that on which I learned 
to know you, that on which you gave me your 
friendship. No happiness is possible away from 
you. . . . Were you to abandon me I might seek 
forgetfulness in dissipation, not to find pleasure, 
but death." After this solemn protestation he de- 
serted her for the voluptuous, rascally Madame 
Le Jay. 

Henriette de Nehra evidently was a woman who 
appealed more to his heart and mind than Sophie 
ever did, and yet from her own confession we are 
led to believe that their attachment was of a high 
type of friendship rather than love. She was won 
and fascinated by the intellectual power of Mira- 
beau, and she sacrificed herself out of mere senti- 
ment. His infidelity gave her no special anxiety; 
her jealousy seems never to have been aroused so 
long as she had his confidence and esteem. 

From this time forth he wandered through 
Europe, leading the life of a Bohemian, scarce find- 
ing a resting-place nor a fitting theatre for the dis- 


play of his great talents and power. Occasionally 
he was plunged into gloom, as is evidenced by the 
following letter to his sister, in which he vividly 
describes his situation : " Behold me free ! but what 
boots my liberty ? Disavowed by my father ; for- 
gotten, and perhaps hated, by my mother, for 
having desired to serve her ; dreaded by my uncle ; 
haunted by my creditors, of whom not one has 
been paid, although they deprived me of every- 
thing, under the pretext of satisfying them ; men- 
aced by my wife, or by those who govern her; 
stripped of all things, of revenue, of occupation, 
of credit." But out of this mood he, no doubt, 
soon emerged for he was sanguine in temperament 
and ever had the courage to face despair. 

His extravagance plunged him into debt over 
head and heels. At times he was almost penniless 
and had to depend upon his wits for shelter and 
daily bread, but his spirit was unconquerable. 
What energy! what industry! what prodigious 
activity! What mighty projects filled his brain! 
He wrote, he argued, he thundered on every public 
question, and all France, aye, the whole world, 
listened. He wrote a letter to the king of Prussia, 
published an address to the Batavians, and even 
contemplated a translation of Homer. He pub- 
lished pamphlets on " The Prussian Monarchy," 
on " The Opening of the Scheldt," on " The Bank 
of St. Charles," on " The Order of Cincinnatus," 
on "The Diamond Necklace," on "The Water 
Company of Paris," on " Stock Jobbing," on Fi- 
nance, Taxes, Constitutional Reform, the Adminis- 
tration of Justice. " He was a very thunderbolt of 


labor and activity." Nothing escaped his disputa- 
tious ardor. " He was," using the language 
Macaulay applies to Johnson, " intellectually of 
the stuff of which controversialists are made." He 
was ever ready and always fully armed to enter the 
lists against all challengers. 

He could write upon any subject at the shortest 
notice, and had the faculty of easily gathering his 
information from many sources. In his animated 
style, he could make the dryest subject interesting 
and absorbing. 

Dumont, in his personal " Recollections of Mira- 
beau," says : " He had the art of finding out men 
of talent, and of successfully flattering those who 
could be of use to him. His interesting and ani- 
mated conversation was like a hone which he used 
to sharpen his tools. Nothing was lost to him. 
. . . He appropriated to his own benefit the fruits 
of the reading and study of his friends, knew how 
to use the information thus acquired, so as to ap- 
pear always to have possessed it, and when he had 
begun a work in earnest, it was seen to make a 
rapid and daily progress." Quoting from the same 
writer : " Had anyone offered him the elements 
of Chinese grammar he would, no doubt, have at- 
tempted a treatise on the Chinese language. He 
studied a subject whilst he was writing upon it, and 
he only required an assistant, who furnished matter. 
He could contrive to get notes and additions from 
twenty different hands ; and had he been offered a 
good price, I am confident he would have under- 
taken to write even an encyclopaedia." M. Etienne 
Dumont, who wrote the " Recollections of Mira- 


beau," gives us more information that enables us 
to appreciate and better understand the real char- 
acter of Mirabeau than any other author of that 

He met Mirabeau in Paris in 1788, on the eve 
of the Revolution, in the house of Mr. Romilly, a 
gentleman whom Dumont describes as a " descend- 
ant of a French family, that took refuge in Eng- 
land after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes; 
an event of which Romilly never spoke without 
blessing the memory of Louis XIV., to whom he 
thus owed the obligation of being an Englishman. 
During Mirabeau's visit to London, in 1784, he 
had become very intimate with Romilly." 

It was at this time that Mirabeau became fa- 
miliar with the strong features of the English con- 
stitution. He was specially impressed by the fact 
that the personal liberty of the humblest citizen 
was secured by law. " In general acts," he wrote, 
" the regal power seems boundless ; in individual 
cases, as limited as any in Europe. Thus, it would 
be easier for the king to destroy the liberty of the 
press at one blow, or to load the entire country 
with an enormous impost, than to take a simple 
cottage from its rightful owner. The king can 
raise twenty millions of money, but he cannot cut 
off the head of John Wilkes." ' 

Dumont was a citizen of Geneva. He had been 
educated for the church, but devoted much of his 
life to diplomacy and literature. He was in very 
close personal relations with Mirabeau, and assisted 
him in preparing his speeches and reports during 
the years 1789 and 1790.- He went to England in 


1792, and was secretary to Jeremy Bentham, and 
is said to have materially aided in compiling that 
author's great work " On Legislation." He had 
an abundance of conceit, and often writes in a vein 
that is most egotistical, but in so far as the facts 
relating to Mirabeau are concerned, he evidently 
did not draw upon his imagination. He had a 
great admiration for Mirabeau's talents and power, 
but his egotism would not permit him to over- 
paint any character but his own. Dumont took 
much credit to himself in the matter of the prepa- 
ration of Mirabeau's speeches and at times speaks 
as if the great orator were merely his mouth-piece. 
He thought himself the little Vulcan who forged 
the thunderbolts for Zeus to hurl. 

He, no doubt, gathered facts and put them into 
form and arrangement, but it required the genius 
of Mirabeau to give them life. Dumont's mere 
bald suggestions became under the eloquence of the 
master living things. 

When the question was under discussion as to 
the name that should be taken by the Assembly, 
Dumont claims to have written a speech urging the 
adoption of the title, suggested by Mirabeau, 
the " Assembly of the French People." He states 
that after the speech was written he gave it to 
Mirabeau who delivered it at a meeting of the 
Assembly. " The exordium which I had written," 
says Dumont, " excited a tolerable degree of atten- 
tion, the argumentative part passed off with alter- 
nate murmurs and applause, but the peroration 
which he delivered in a voice of thunder, and which 
was heard with a species of terror, produced an 


extraordinary effect. It was succeeded not by cries 
but by convulsions of rage." From reading this 
we might imagine that Mirabeau committed the 
speech to memory, but is it not more reasonable to 
believe that he merely took the suggestions of his 
secretary and clothed them in his own language? 
Would Dumont have us think that the great orator 
was but a declaimer? Further on in his book 
Dumont, in fact, answers the question by saying 
that " he (Mirabeau) imparted splendor to what- 
ever he touched, by introducing here and there 
luminous thoughts, original expressions, and apos- 
trophes full of fire and eloquence." Dumont was 
only a hodman and he thought in his conceit that 
he was the architect. 

Carlyle, in speaking of this vanity of Dumont, 
says : " It is true the whim he had of looking at 
the great Mirabeau as a thing set in motion mainly 
by him, and such as he, was one of the most won- 
derful met with in psychology. . . . That in fact, 
figuratively speaking, this enormous Mirabeau, the 
sound of whom went forth to all lands, was no 
other than an enormous trumpet, or coach-horn of 
japanned tin, through which a dexterous little 
M. Dumont was blowing all the while and making 
the noise." Still, notwithstanding his personal 
weaknesses, his " Recollections of Mirabeau" is a 
most useful and interesting work. It was written 
in 1799, ten years after the meeting of the States 
General, at a time when the excitement of the Revo- 
lution had in a great measure subsided, and when 
thoughtful men were beginning to count the cost 
and weigh the results. It was written eight years 


after the death of Mirabeau, when the incidents of 
his life, and when his power, influence, and per- 
sonal traits and characteristics could be fairly 
judged, without personal prejudice or an over- 
weening admiration. The interval was long 
enough to give a safe perspective. 

Dumont was greatly impressed by the talents of 
Mirabeau, but his friendship was not so strong nor 
his admiration so great as to bias his judgment in 
the delineation of Mirabeau's character. The book 
is rather conservatively written, and the author was 
neither a sycophant nor a flatterer. 

" His Mirabeau,," writes Macaulay, " is incom- 
parable. All the former Mirabeaus were daubs in 
comparison. Some were merely painted from the 
imagination, others were gross caricatures; this 
is the very individual, neither god nor demon, but 
a man, a Frenchman, a Frenchman of the eigh- 
teenth century, with great talents, with strong pas- 
sions, depraved by bad education, surrounded by 
temptations of every kind, made desperate at one 
time by disgrace and then again intoxicated by 
fame. . . . Till now, Mirabeau was to us, and we 
believe to most readers of history, not a man, but 
a string of antitheses. Henceforth he will be a 
real human being, a remarkable and eccentric being 
indeed, but perfectly conceivable." High praise 
from such an authority, some will say, but it must 
be borne in mind that Macaulay was, in his criti- 
cisms and historical writings, apt to be controlled 
by his prejudices and emotions. 

But even if we do not concede that the work is 
entitled to the high praise bestowed on it by Macau- 


lay, we must admit that it faithfully portrays the 
great Mirabeau, and in the reading of it we get a 
fair and just conception of Mirabeau as he was. 
Without it we would have to depend upon stray 
sketches written by his contemporaries and the 
many histories of the Revolution, which, rather 
than delineating his character, connect him only 
with the events of that period. 

To be sure the Biography written by M. Lucas 
Montigny, who styles himself " Adopted Son," is 
full of all sorts of information gathered from every 
conceivable source, but it gives no valuable personal 
recollections and impressions, for the author was 
not born until 1782, or thereabouts, and was only 
ten or eleven years of age when his father pre- 
sumptive died. The work is heavy, uninteresting, 
and lengthy. The style is commonplace and the 
arrangement of the facts disordered. Montigny is 
so wanting in genius or talent that Carlyle says 
Mirabeau might have denied all responsibility of 
parentage upon this ground alone. Although not 
born in wedlock, he was, nevertheless, very proud 
of his father, and he played the part of a dutiful son 
in defending at every point, so far as was possible, 
the reputation of his sire. 

I have gone to some length in commenting upon 
the works of Dumont and Montigny, because it is 
from these two authors, who personally knew him, 
that we gather much of our information as to the 
real character and the details of the life of Mira- 

MM. Louis and Charles de Lomenie have written 
the most exhaustive biography of the great tribune, 


and have brought many new and interesting facts 
to light. The work was begun by Louis, who died 
before its completion. " It threatened to be one 
of the gravest losses in modern literature," says 
McCarthy, " that De Lomenh's book, like the un- 
finished window in Aladdin's Lamp, ' unfinished 
must remain.' ' Fortunately, however, the ma- 
terials left by Louis were subsequently put together 
by his son Charles and the work completed. 

Von Hoist admits that, taken altogether, this is 
the best biography of Mirabeau that has been writ- 
ten, but at the same time complains, and justly, 
that M. de Lomenie did not fully understand the 
character of Mirabeau, whom he calls " the inex- 
plicable man." Von Hoist says that the contra- 
dictions in the character of Mirabeau seem to per- 
plex the biographer to such a degree that he fails 
to understand him in his true light; that men 
should be judged by taking into consideration the 
conditions of the period in which they live, that 
" they never can be really understood if they are 
not judged as children of their times;" that "if 
men and times are really understood, the moral 
guilt of their follies and crimes almost always ap- 
pears diminished by one half." He further adds 
that he is far from charging M. de Lomenie with 
having overlooked this, but thinks he has not 
allowed it the weight that must be accorded to 
it. " Some historians might have hesitated to 
write and publish several stout volumes on a man 
so long as they had to confess to themselves that 
they failed to understand him." 

" Das Leben Mirabeaus," published in 1889 by 


Alfred Stern, a German professor, is pronounced 
by a competent authority as " the most complete, 
impartial, and interesting biography of the orator 

Von Hoist is his latest biographer, and his work, 
says McCarthy, " The French Revolution tested by 
Mirabeau's Career," " is America's greatest contri- 
bution to the subject." 







EVENTS were following each other in rapid suc- 
cession. The clouds were scudding before the 
storm. The Revolution was coming on apace, it 
was drawing close. 

The acrimonious controversies between Calonne 
and Necker in relation to the deficit revealed a 
most startling condition of affairs. Mirabeau, 
who had been employed by Calonne in a diplomatic 
mission to Berlin, attacked Necker with all the fury 
of his nature. He threatened to expose the " char- 
latan" and lay him at Calonne's feet convicted of 
falsehood and incapacity. 

Calonne had accused Necker of having imposed 
upon the nation by a statement that when he, 
Necker, retired from office, instead of leaving a de- 
ficiency there was a surplus of ten millions of 
livres. By calculations and specious arguments, 
Calonne created a doubt in the public mind which, 
for a time, seriously reflected upon the integrity 
of Necker. The latter, however, who seldom made 
a mistake in his figures or arithmetical calcula- 
tions, soon refuted his enemies by a public con- 
tradiction. Mirabeau's shafts, this time, had gone 
wide of the mark. 



Necker was nothing of a politician. He was 
loath to use the services of men in public affairs 
whom he would not invite to his home. He looked 
upon Mirabeau as an adventurer and a roue, whose 
confidence he could not secure, and whose services 
were not worth having. In this particular he was 
neither wise nor diplomatic, for Mirabeau could 
have rendered him great, invaluable service. 

Malouet, at the opening of the States General, 
thought it would be a wise move to bring Necker 
and Mirabeau together and, accordingly, he ar- 
ranged an interview. " I am told, sir," said 
Necker, when they met, " that you have some 
propositions to make to me ; what are they ?" The 
stiff and cold reception so nettled Mirabeau that he 
hotly replied : " My proposition, sir, is to wish you 
good-day." Hurrying back to the Assembly he 
told Malouet that Necker was an ass and that the 
minister would hear from him yet. 

If a man wants to win in the game of politics, 
he must not be too particular about the private 
character of the men with whom he forms his 
combinations; he might as well consider the color 
of the hair or the cut of the coat. His purpose is 
to reach the end in view, and to do this he must 
use the material at hand. Necker was a dilettante 
in politics. He was not a good judge of human 
nature. He had an exalted opinion of his adminis- 
trative and financial ability and an overweening 
supreme confidence in himself. Mirabeau sarcas- 
tically said that " Mallebranche saw everything in 
God, but Necker sees everything in Necker." 

At this period, just on the eve of the Revolution, 


" the character of Mirabeau," says Dumont, " was 
in the lowest possible state of degradation. He was 
considered as a dangerous enemy and a slippery 
friend. His lawsuits with his family, his elope- 
ments, his imprisonments, and his morals could 
not be overlooked, even in a city so lax as Paris; 
and his name was pronounced with detestation at 
the houses of some of our most intimate friends." 
No one could have imagined that this adventurer, 
living by his wits and reduced almost to beggary, 
to " a state of degradation," as Dumont puts it, 
was in a short time to be the foremost man in 
France, the most important political character of 
his period, and, as the leader of the National As- 
sembly, was to direct the course of the Revolution. 
How opportunities are taken for destinies ! 

Prior to the calling of the meeting of the No- 
tables, Mirabeau was in Berlin, but he hastened 
home to France to take part in the coming events. 
He clearly saw that the meeting of the Notables 
must, in turn, be followed almost immediately by 
the States General. "A convocation of the States 
General," he declared, " is so much required by 
necessity, so inevitable, that with or without a 
prime minister under Achilles or Thersites, it as- 
suredly must take place." When the Notables met, 
in 1788, Mirabeau announced himself as a candi- 
date for the secretaryship of the body, but the 
nobles refused even to consider his name in any 

On the 27th of December, 1788, the royal procla- 
mation calls for a convocation of the States General 
to be held in May of the following year. The 
13 J 93 


whole nation is aroused ; much is expected of this 
meeting; all classes are to be represented, and all 
the interests of the realm are to be considered. It 
is the ardent hope of every heart that relief will 
speedily come to an impoverished people, and a 
bankrupted state, as the result of the deliberations 
of the wise men of the kingdom. But alas ! it was 
to provoke contention, strife, and terror ; it was to 
open the flood-gates of passion and let in a sea of 
blood that was to lap at the foot of the throne, and 
at last swallow up all law and order and precedent, 
and in its fury sweep away, for a time at least, all 
landmarks and barriers of authority and govern- 

Mirabeau threw himself into the campaign with 
all the ardor of his nature. Here, at last, was an 
opportunity for the display of his great power and 
commanding talents. 

He had been expecting the event and it arrived 
on time. " Assuredly," he writes in 1787, " I do 
not conceal from myself that I am attracted, that I 
am excited by circumstances which promise a glori- 
ous day for my country. Leave me then in my 
obscurity, I say in my obscurity, because my de- 
sign is to remain there invariably, until there fol- 
lows, to the tumult wherein we now are, a regular 
order of things ; and until some great revolution 
be it good, or be it evil commands a good citizen, 
always accountable for his vote, and even for his 
talents, to elevate his voice. That revolution cannot 

At another time he declared : " I think Louis 
XV. was well-nigh correct when he stated that the 


monarchy would endure his time and not much 
longer. Unless some very decisive change take 
place which I will endeavor to bring about by 
writing and in every other practicable manner 
Louis XVI. will be the last monarch who will 
sway the fate of France." When the States Gen- 
eral was summoned in 1789, Mirabeau sought, as 
his father's proxy, to be elected a representative of 
the nobles, but they cast him out of their midst with 
imprecations. This aroused the lion in his nature 
and he swore to take revenge. 

Rejected by the Noblesse, he appealed to the 
people and stood as deputy for the Third Estate in 
two towns, Marseilles and Aix. He harangued his 
constituents on the hustings and in pamphlets. He 
issued bulletins hourly. He travelled from place 
to place pleading his cause, and that of the people, 
with that fiery impassioned eloquence that was 
soon, in the National Assembly, to inflame all 
France. No political campaign of this kind had 
ever been seen. He made the first stump speeches 
that were ever heard in France, " Provence 
crowding by the ten thousand round his chariot 
wheels; explosions of rejoicing musketry, heaven- 
rending acclamations ; people paying two louis for 
a place at the window." 

Every eye was on his district. All France turned 
to watch his battle. He was eager, restless, sleep- 
less. Receptions were never more heartily given 
to any man than those to Mirabeau in the towns he 
visited during his campaign. Men, women, and 
children welcomed him. Their enthusiasm was so 
great that he exclaimed : " I see how men become 


slaves, tyranny is begun by gratitude." The 
crowd wished to draw his carriage but he objected, 
saying: " Men were not made to bear a man, and 
you already bear too much." Bonfires and illumi- 
nations reddened the skies night after night, and 
his progress through Provence was a march of 

Bread-riots are threatening Marseilles ; the gov- 
ernor requests him to address the people. He con- 
sents; he faces an angry, hungry mob, on the 25th 
of March, 1789, and in a speech, full of eloquence 
and logic, he explains to starving men why the 
government is powerless to aid them, and why they 
should not molest the baker and the butcher. 
" Listen to me, my good friends : I desire to be 
useful to you ; I wish not to deceive you. Each of 
you wishes only that which is for the common 
good, because you are all honest men, but everyone 
does not know what he ought to do. We deceive 
ourselves, often even in the matter of our own in- 
terests; and it is because I have considered the 
interests of all, that I am going to tell you what I 
think." He then goes on to say that he knows 
they have just cause for many complaints, and it 
is to correct the things of which they complain that 
the good king has called a meeting at Versailles the 
2 /th of next month, but they must not expect too 
much at once. " We cannot change immediately 
all that which should be changed ; if we could we 
would not be men, we would be angels." 

Having thus gained their confidence, he moves 
forward in his argument, step by step, explaining 
to them why wheat is dear, and, in consequence, 


why bread is dear. He informs them that several 
of the countries that supply France with wheat are 
at war, and that the seasons had generally been 
very bad in all wheat-growing districts; that hail 
and storms had destroyed the harvests. " Else- 
where people suffer more than in Marseilles, and 
yet they suffer patiently and complain not. God 
has willed it; He will give us an abundance in 
another year." Patiently, adroitly, persuasively, 
the orator appealed to their minds and hearts; he 
aroused their local pride ; he calmed their fears, 
allayed their suspicions, and, at last, softened their 
anger. Artillery would have provoked a riot ; the 
eloquence of Mirabeau controlled the passions, ap- 
peased the hunger of men, and preserved the public 

The speech, from beginning to end, was a simple, 
gentle plea ; it was not in his usual impetuous man- 
ner, and it proved that Mirabeau was a master in 
every style of oratory. In its class, the speech is a 
model to be carefully studied by every public 

The story that Mirabeau, in order to find favor 
with the people, opened a cloth shop in Marseilles, 
is without the slightest foundation in truth. I have 
not been able to find where or how the story origi- 
nated. In the " Biographic Moderne," however, 
it is seriously stated as a fact that, " being rejected 
at the time of the elections by the nobility of 
Provence, he hired a warehouse, put up this inscrip- 
tion, ' Mirabeau, woolen draper/ and was elected 
deputy from the Tiers Etat of Aix." He, no 
doubt, would have adopted any method to reach a 



desired result, for, as a politician, he was not 
scrupulous in the choice of means to attain an end, 
but he did not have to gain the support of the 
Third Estate by such a plan. He was known in 
Provence as a patrician, and such a play would 
have simply subjected him to ridicule and would, 
in no way, have aided him in his ambition. When 
he espoused the popular cause, he was dubbed by 
the court the " Plebeian Count," and that suffi- 
ciently identified him with the Third Estate. 

The opposition of the nobility to him was most 
bitter for what they termed the desertion of his 
class. He was most savagely attacked by all the 
royalist journals. A Paris paper called him " a 
mad dog." " If I am a mad dog," he replied, " that 
is an excellent reason to elect me, for despotism and 
privileges will die of my bite." How true! 

Mirabeau was a practical politician, with all the 
arts and tricks of the modern school. He had great 
organizing ability, the faculty of winning men, 
versatility in the adaptation of means to an end, 
and a tireless spirit. No one could make more 
effective and picturesque plays to the gallery, no 
one could so thunder on the hustings, no one could 
write and publish more telling campaign 
" dodgers," or circulars, and in epigram frame 
more appropriate party shibboleths. 

Over the signature of a " Citizen of Marseilles," 
letters were distributed during his campaign which 
extolled the talents and the virtues of the candi- 
date. They strongly smack of Mirabeau's style, 
as will be seen in the following : " For fifteen 
years he has graven the principles of liberty and 


equality, the most sacred rights of man, in 
monumental works destined to outlive bronze and 
copper. Provence was enslaved ; the Count of Mi- 
rabeau appears, and she is free. He is the most 
eloquent man of the age. Public assemblies are 
swayed by his voice as the waves are hushed by 
the crash of the thunder. His courage is even more 
astounding than his ability. No power on earth 
could make him belie a single one of his principles. 
His public life has been a series of struggles and 
triumphs in the cause of truth." In the main, there 
is really no exaggeration in these statements. 

His arraignment and defiance of the nobility, 
after he was driven from their ranks, was a piece 
of surpassing eloquence, and it alone would have 
placed him in the ranks of the people and among 
the leaders of the popular cause. 

" What have I done that was so criminal ? I 
have desired that my order were wise enough to 
give to-day what will unquestionably be wrested 
from it to-morrow ; that it should receive the merit 
and the glory of sanctioning the assemblage of the 
Three Orders, which all Provence loudly demands. 
This is the crime of your ' enemy of peace !' Or, 
beyond that, I have ventured to believe that the 
people might be right after all. Ah, doubtless, a 
patrician soiled with such a thought deserves per- 
secution ! But I am still guiltier than you think ; 
for it is my belief that the people when they com- 
plain are always right; that their indefatigable 
patience invariably waits the uttermost excesses of 
oppression before they can determine on resisting; 
that they never resist long enough to obtain com- 


plete redress; and do not sufficiently know that to 
strike their enemies into terror and submission, they 
have only to stand still ; that the most innocent as 
the most invincible of all powers is the power of 
refusing to act. 

" But you, ministers of a God of peace, who are 
ordained to bless and not to curse, have launched 
your anathema on me without even the attempt 
at enlightening me, at reasoning with me ! 

" And you, ' friends of peace/ who denounce to 
the people, with all the vehemence of hatred, the 
one defender they yet have found, out of their own 
ranks; who, to bring about concord, are filling 
capital and province with placards calculated to 
arm the rural districts against the towns, if your 
deeds did not refute your writings ; who, to pre- 
pare ways of conciliation, protest against the royal 
regulation for convoking the States General, be- 
cause it grants the people as many deputies as both 
the other orders, and against all that the coming 
National Assembly shall do, unless its laws secure 
the triumph of your pretensions, the eternity of 
your privileges ! Disinterested ' friends of peace !' 
I have appealed to your honor, and summon you 
to state what expressions of mine have offended 
against either the respect we owe to the royal 
authority or to the nation's right. Nobles of 
Provence, Europe is attentive; weigh well your 
answer. Priests of the living God, beware; God 
hears you! And if you do not answer, but keep 
silence, shutting yourselves up in the vague decla- 
mations you have hurled at me, then allow me to 
add one word. 



" In all countries, in all ages, aristocrats have 
implacably persecuted the friends of the people; 
and if, by some singular combination of fortune, 
there chanced to arise such a one in their own circle, 
it was he above all whom they struck at, eager to 
inspire wider terror by the choice of their victim. 
Thus perished the last of the Gracchi by the hands 
of the patricians ; but, being struck with the mortal 
stab, he flung dust towards Heaven, and called on 
the avenging gods to witness; and from this dust 
sprang Marius, Marius not so illustrious for ex- 
terminating the Cimbri as for overturning in Rome 
the tyranny of the Noblesse ! 

" But you, commons, listen to one who cher- 
ishes your plaudits in his heart, without being 
seduced by them. Man is only strong by union 
he is only happy by peace. Be firm, but be not 
obstinate; courageous, but not tumultuous; free, 
but not undisciplined ; sensitive, but not wildly en- 
thusiastic; only stayed by insurmountable ob- 
stacles; and be always inflexible, but disdain the 
contentions of self-love, and never hesitate between 
your selfish interests and your country. 

" As for me, in my public career I have only 
feared to be wrong, begirt with an approving 
conscience and armed with principles I would brave 
the universe, if so be that my labors and my voice 
support you in the National Assembly. . . . What ! 
should I now arrest my civic career? I who, the 
first of Frenchmen, have proudly proclaimed my 
opinions on the national affairs in a time when cir- 
cumstances were less urgent and the task far more 
perilous ! No ; outrages will not influence my con- 



stancy. I have been, I am, I will be to the tomb, 
the man of the public liberty, the man of the 
constitution. Woe to the privileged orders! . . . 
for privileges shall perish; but the people is 




France was awakening to a new life. The body 
politic was rotten and diseased. So long had the 
corruption lasted that it had become malignant and 
chronic. Further delay to apply remedies would 
have resulted in death. Hope now took the place 
of despair, the vital forces were quickened, and the 
people rose in their might to correct existing abuses. 
The right of franchise was accorded to every man 
who paid a tax, irrespective of the amount. It was 
a dangerous experiment thus suddenly to enfran- 
chise an enslaved people, but the times required con- 
cessions and the people were not in the mood to 
submit to any restrictions of their rights. 

The double representation, by which the Third 
Estate was entitled to as many deputies in the 
States General as the other two orders combined, 
was not so much a concession as a necessity. The 
times, public sentiment, the importance of the 
Third Estate, demanded an equal representation. 
It was on account of this representation that the 
privileged orders were afraid to meet in joint con- 
vention, especially in view of the fact that the 
Third Estate insisted upon voting by poll, upon 
all questions, instead of by order. 

One of the reasons for Necker's popularity was 
that he had from the very beginning favored double 


representation for the commons. He always, how- 
ever, approached his conclusions by slow and cau- 
tious stages, and he endeavored first, in the Assem- 
bly of the Notables, to induce them to agree to his 
plan, but failing to secure their endorsement he 
afterwards declared for it openly. 

Out of a population of twenty-five millions, five 
millions of men, it is said, voted at the elections. 
The court thought that the people would be tract- 
able and that they would support those deputies 
who were favorable to the crown, but the court as 
usual was wrong. It is remarkable how unfamiliar 
the nobles were with the prevailing public senti- 
ment. The Revolution seemed to creep upon them 
by degrees and they appeared never ready to resist 
it. They lacked leaders of foresight, resource, and 
courage. They failed to appreciate the impulse 
back of the people. They forgot that for genera- 
tions the people had groaned under the weight of 
almost intolerable abuses, and that they were now 
in a temper, if the opportunity should occur, to 
wreak vengeance on their lords and masters in 
both church and state. 

To return to the elections in Provence. Mira- 
beau was successful both in Marseilles and Aix, 
and he hesitated in deciding which district he 
would stand for. He finally selected the latter con- 
stituency. Many of the rich and influential citizens 
of Marseilles had opposed him, and in his effort to 
gain their favor, he lost in a considerable measure, 
because of his moderation, the support of the mob. 
The election returns from Marseilles showed a 
small majority and for this reason he decided to 


stand for Aix, whose constituency had evinced 
greater confidence and had returned a far greater 

In relation to this matter, Dumont ascribes a 
different reason for his selection of the less im- 
portant district. " Mirabeau," he says, " had em- 
ployed manoeuvres at Aix and at Marseilles which 
were to be brought forward against the legality 
of his return ; and he himself felt so convinced that 
his election at Marseilles could never be maintained, 
that he gave the preference to Aix, although he 
would have been much more flattered at represent- 
ing one of the largest and most important cities in 
the kingdom." 

Deputies from all the districts in France were 
wending their way to the capital. At this period 
Paris was France. It was the capital of the State. 
The king held court here, or else at Versailles, a 
short distance away. It was the leading and most 
important city on the continent. No city of Eu- 
rope presented contrasts so marked. Here were 
to be found, side by side, all classes of society, 
every phase of life, from the splendor of the prince 
to the misery of the beggar, from the luxury of 
the palace to the squalor of the hut. 

The ambitious and distinguished men of the 
nation flocked to the city. Lawyers, journalists, 
financiers, statesmen, artists, and men of letters 
were attracted by the advantages and opportunities 
that the great metropolis offered and afforded. It 
was one of the most attractive cities in Europe ; it 
was devoted to fashion and pleasure, and was the 
acknowledged literary and art centre of the world. 


It was then, as it is to-day, the resort of travellers 
from all quarters of the globe. 

In 1789 the population was the largest of all the 
cities of the continent. It was the centre of excite- 
ment and gaiety. Its principal thoroughfares were 
crowded with people for Paris lived out of doors 
going and coming in every direction, and not 
governed by any rule of locomotion, such as keep- 
ing to the right or to the left. Blind beggars were 
on every hand, pick-pockets and petty thieves 
mingled with the throng, and industriously plied 
their trade. Hawkers shrieked their wares in 
chorus, a discordant medley, making a din that 
deadened every other sound. There were no side- 
walks for pedestrians. The highways were not 
paved, and in rainy weather they became thick with 
mud and black slime. Carriages, carts, fiacres, and 
vehicles of all kinds dashed rapidly through the 
streets, for they travelled at a fast pace in Paris, 
the drivers were regardless of any duty they 
owed to the life and limb of pedestrians. 

Cafes were numerous ; they were well patronized, 
and many of them were famous for their delicate 
dishes and fine service. The salons were a special 
feature of Parisian social life. They were literary, 
political, and fashionable. Necker's house was a 
centre of attraction. Here gathered men of letters, 
financiers, and distinguished politicians. La Fayette 
also kept open house, as did Madame Sabran and 
Madame Broglie; Barnave and the two Lameths 
were frequently at the latter's receptions. Madame 
de Beauharnais and Madame Talma won distinc- 
tion as entertainers. The salon of Mademoiselle 


Theroigne de Mericourt, a beautiful courtesan, the 
leader of the demi-monde, was frequented by men 
of the world, and there were to be found late at 
night, or rather early in the morning, many of the 
gentlemen who, in the early part of the evening, had 
spent their time in more respectable company. 
Mirabeau, when he could escape from the jealous 
scrutiny of Madame Le Jay, was an occasional 
visitor at this house of pleasure, and it is said that 
Robespierre dropped in at intervals. 

Louvet, in describing Paris in 1783, wrote: 
" Arriving at the Place Louis XV., the spectacle 
which struck my eyes dazzled them with its mag- 
nificence. Upon the right bank of the Seine were 
extensive mansions, upon the left magnificent 
palaces, delightful walks behind me, and in front 
a noble garden. As we advanced I beheld the 
dwellings of kings. . . . My attention was at- 
tracted by new objects at every step. I admired 
the richness of the fashions, the gayety of the 
dress, and the elegance of the manners of those by 
whom it was surrounded." Upon his arrival in the 
city he had entered through the suburb of Saint 
Marceau, the twin district of Saint Antoine, in 
which districts lived the poor. Here he saw high 
but ugly cottages, filthy narrow streets, wretched 
men, women, and children, half naked, and on 
every hand dreadful misery. Having drawn a 
comparison between the rich and the poor districts, 
he said: " I could not understand how objects so 
different could be contained within the same cir- 
cumference. Experience had not taught me that 
everywhere the palaces concealed the cottages ; that 


luxury produced misery; that the great opulence 
of a single person always implies the extreme 
poverty of many." 

" Paris," wrote Morris, during the Revolution, 
" is perhaps as wicked a spot as exists. Incest, 
murder, bestiality, fraud, rapine, oppression, base- 
ness, cruelty, and yet this is the city that has stepped 
forward in the sacred cause of liberty. The press- 
ure of despotism being removed, every bad passion 
exerts its peculiar energy." 

It was " the workshop of the Revolution." Here 
were forged the implements of that great conflict, 
here every effort focused, and from this throbbing 
centre was distributed throughout all France the 
force that gave impetus, thought, and direction to 
that mighty convulsion. 

The centre of attraction in Paris was the Palais 
Royal. It had been thrown open to the public by 
the Duke of Orleans, and became the favorite 
resort for all classes of citizens. The palace sur- 
rounded an open court-yard. The ground floor 
was occupied with shops, cafes, and gambling hells. 
The newspaper offices were located here, and bulle- 
tins were posted hourly during the meetings of the 
States General. It was the ear, eye, and tongue 
of the city. Rumor and scandal from this point 
were given circulation. The gossip was never 
idle. It was crowded from morning until late 
at night with a noisy, an excited throng. Ora- 
tors and demagogues harangued the dear people; 
the rostrum was seldom empty. Any man who 
had news to impart or desired to express his views 
on public questions was always given an attentive, 


and, if he touched the popular chord, an enthu- 
siastic audience. On the other hand, however, if 
his views were not in accord with the new order 
of things he would, most likely, be ducked un- 
ceremoniously in the fountain. 

Saint Antoine was a quarter abandoned to the 
poor. It was frowned on by the Bastile, a dread- 
ful gloomy fortress that stood like some great 
monitor posted to keep watch over that restless, 
turbulent population. 

This whole section was a seething cauldron of 
revolution. Poverty, misery, destitution, and deg- 
radation were on every hand; employment was 
hard to find, food was scarce, garments were 
ragged. The mob, hungry and desperate, was kept 
in restraint by an armed force; but, at last, the 
barriers were broken down, and out of the depths 
of Saint Antoine poured the rabble with pike and 
scythe and torch to wreak vengeance on the au- 
thors of their misery, and the mob, when their 
turn came, were as deaf to the cries of mercy as 
the nobility had been to the appeals of the people 
for relief. 

Saint Germaine was the aristocratic quarter, one 
of the most brilliant in Europe. Its life was 
fashionable and devoted to pleasure. Its salons 
were renowned the world over, but after the emi- 
gration of the nobles, who, like a pack of cowards, 
fled from the wrath of the people, it became a 
desert. Its palaces were abandoned and the quar- 
ter resembled the wealthy residential sections of our 
great cities during the summer exodus. Doors and 
windows were barred and grass grew in the streets. 
14 209 


A death-like stillness prevailed where all had been 
gaiety and splendor. 

Even during the Reign of Terror there was no 
apparent change in the life of Paris. Business 
went on as usual ; twenty-three theatres were open 
every night, and sixty dancing-saloons. The 
streets were thronged, the public gardens were 
crowded with merry-makers, the cafes and wine 
shops were open, but, strange to relate, the 
churches were closed. 

Children daily went to school, and while playing 
in the streets would often stop their games to 
watch the passing tumbrils, or death carts, and 
mock the victims on their way to the scaffold. So 
common, so constant were the processions that the 
shop-keepers, if they were busy, did not take time 
to come to the doors to look at the condemned 
going to their doom. 

The guillotine was surrounded day after day by 
an idle crowd of sightseers who laughed at the 
fears of the timid and howled down with derision 
the dying words of their one-time favorites. Chil- 
dren played around the scaffold and dabbled in the 
blood of its victims. Old women, knitting socks, 
sat in the shadow of the guillotine and kept score 
by dropping a stitch every time a head fell into 
the basket. 

At the execution of the king, the crowd dipped 
their handkerchiefs in his blood, and one wretch 
threw a handful of the clots over the heads of the 
people. The king's coat and hat were torn to 
shreds, and distributed as relics, and when the 
basket fell from the cart, after the burial, people 



rubbed their handkerchiefs over the bottom of it 
to preserve a smear of the royal blood. 

At night the theatres and cafes were open. 
Howling maniacs and ferocious women danced in 
the roadways, and drunken, maddened sans-culottes 
reeled through the streets, celebrating the event in 
a public debauch ; fierce Jacobins exulted ; the radi- 
cal clubs rang with the eloquence of the orators, 
and Danton cried out in his defiant, impassioned 
rage : " The allied kings of Europe threaten us ! 
We hurl at their feet, as gage of battle, the head 
of a king." 

21 1 





THE States General faced a future, foreboding, 
threatening disaster. No legislative assembly from 
the beginning of time ever met to consider more 
momentous questions, and it would be hard to find, 
in all history, a body of men called together to 
deliberate on public questions so lacking in political 
experience and training. 

We have already described, somewhat in detail, 
upon another page, the ceremony and scenes inci- 
dent to the opening of this historic congress. 

The real business of the session began with the 
reading of the king's speech, which was character- 
ized by a tender solicitude for the interests of the 
people and the welfare of the kingdom. It was 
conciliatory in tone and tender and affectionate in 
sentiment, but it defined no policy nor was it in any 
way suggestive of remedy for the existing evils. 
It was carefully prepared, so as not to offend the 
commons; but, on the other hand, it was careful 
not to intimate the surrender of any right or privi- 
lege of absolutism. There was to be no limitation 
of arbitrary power. It was just such a speech as 
was to be expected from such a monarch, who had 
not the slightest idea of the dangers that were im- 
minent, nor any just conception of the conduct and 



policy that were required by the necessities of the 

" Gentlemen," he said, " the day I have so 
anxiously expected has at last arrived, and I see 
around me the representatives of the nation which 
I glory in governing. A long interval has elapsed 
since the last session of the States General, and 
although the convocation of these assemblies 
seemed to have fallen into disuse, I did not hesi- 
tate to restore a custom from which the kingdom 
might derive new force, and which might open 
to the nation a new source of happiness. . . . That 
a happy spirit of union may pervade this assembly, 
and that this may be an ever-memorable epoch 
for the happiness and prosperity of the kingdom, 
is the wish of my heart, the most ardent of my 
desires, it is, in a word, the reward which I expect 
for the uprightness of my intentions and the love I 
have for my subjects." 

You will see that the king expects the thanks and 
congratulations of the people for having deigned 
to convoke the States General, and for having re- 
stored a wise custom that had fallen into disuse. 
He had placed the commons under obligations for 
having so kindly favored them. His pressing need 
was money, his dread was innovations. 

The hall rang with applause at the conclusion of 
the king's address, and then Necker followed with 
his empty periods in a written speech that took him 
three long hours to deliver, wearing out the pa- 
tience of his audience, and evading, at every point, 
the real issues other than the question of the 




Mirabeau, who had supreme contempt for the 
abilities of Necker, was disgusted with what he 
considered a lost opportunity, for from the very 
beginning to the end of an almost interminable 
speech there were no suggestions that gave hope, 
nor remedies that promised relief. " If the man 
had a vestige of talent," wrote Mirabeau, in a letter 
to a friend, " he could in a week obtain from us 
new taxes to the amount of sixty million livres, a 
loan of one hundred and fifty million, and dismiss 
us the next day. If he had any strength of char- 
acter, he could play the part of Richelieu. If there 
was a spark of capacity among his advisers the 
king would declare himself on the side of the 

If a far-sighted statesman, instead of a mere 
financier, could have taken the helm at this time, 
the disasters that threatened to engulf the state, no 
doubt, could have been avoided. Concessions 
could have been made, the commons conciliated, 
reforms effected, and a constitution established. 
The Revolution might have been bloodless. Mira- 
beau felt he had the power within him to effect 
these results, and he chafed as he listened to the 
weary calculations of a book-keeper who usurped 
the place of a politician and statesman. 

During the applause that followed Necker's ad- 
dress, for it was applauded notwithstanding its 
prolixity, the king hastily withdrew from the hall, 
having been warned that Mirabeau was to make 
himself " the mouthpiece of the nation's wishes." 
The nobility and the clergy immediately followed 
the king, and the deputies of the Third Estate were 


left alone in that vast hall, which, before the de- 
parture of the king and the privileged orders, had 
been a scene of magnificence and splendor. With- 
out leadership or organization, the deputies lingered 
around for awhile and then gradually melted 
away. The first day's session of the States General 
was over. 

Mirabeau afterwards, in describing the five hun- 
dred deputies who were left in the hall after the 
adjournment of the session, said : " They were un- 
known to each other, they had gathered from all 
parts of the kingdom, all free, all equal, none with 
any authority, none feeling himself under any obli- 
gation to obey, and all, like Frenchmen, wishing 
to be heard before they would listen." 

They were given, however, in the early sessions 
when they met alone an opportunity to measure 
the qualities of those men who were to lead them, 
to become acquainted with each other, to learn 
each others' names, and to interchange views upon 
the important questions of the day. They, at this 
time, were united in sentiment if not in purpose. 
They had not yet broken into clubs, factions, and 
parties. A common misery had brought them to- 
gether; a common danger had united them, and 
in defence of individual safety they were depen- 
dent upon each other, and felt that sentiment of 
affection that the necessity of mutual protection 

The days of ceremony were over, and at once 

began the real business of the session. The sixth 

of May dawned clear and bright. It was auspicious 

of harmony, but it was a fruitless promise. The 



nobility and the clergy repaired to their respective 
chambers. The deputies of the Third Estate gath- 
ered in the Salle des Menus and there awaited the 
arrival of the other orders. The conflict was begun 
in earnest. It was a contest of obstinacy. If the 
king at this juncture had insisted upon the union 
of the orders, the history of the Revolution might 
have been a different story. It would have been 
a wise move on the part of Louis, but with him 
wisdom came always too late. The deputies at this 
time were tractable, they were loyal to the king and 
desired the public welfare. They had no clearly 
defined purpose of campaign, but they would have 
insisted upon constitutional reform, a restriction 
of the king's veto, the removal of unjust exactions, 
the abolition of feudal burdens, and an equal distri- 
bution of taxation, and surely under the prevailing 
conditions they were entitled to these benefits. If 
these concessions had been made they undoubtedly 
would have favored a loan, under a just system of 
taxation, that would have relieved the public exi- 
gencies. But tyranny long entrenched is loath to 
yield any of its privileges, no matter how unjust 
or oppressive they may be. " It is rare to find a 
prince willing to share his power, or sufficiently en- 
lightened to yield what he will be reduced to lose." 
If Louis, at this juncture, had selected Mirabeau 
as his minister, he would, perhaps, not have lost his 
crown. Of course, under the circumstances, it 
would hardly be reasonable to suppose that the 
king could have placed, at that time, his confidence 
in a man with such a reputation, nor would such a 
choice have met with public approbation, for Mira- 


beau's character was at a low ebb, and his real 
power had not yet been tested, it was an unknown 
quantity; but if the king could have chosen him, 
it would have been a wise selection, for it goes 
without saying that Mirabeau was the one man 
above all others in the kingdom who possessed 
great statesmanship, united with marvellous politi- 
cal insight. He was a patrician by birth and senti- 
ment, and believed in the monarchy, but, on the 
other hand, he appreciated the fact that the time 
had come when its power had to be tempered, and 
when concessions had to be made to popular de- 

The deputies of the people patiently waited in 
their place of meeting for the representatives of the 
privileged classes to join them. The latter, however, 
insisted that the three orders must advise separately, 
while the commons urged that they should meet 
and act together. It was further contended by 
the nobility that the voting should be by order, 
whereas the Third Estate insisted upon voting by 
poll. These were important questions, and upon 
their proper decision depended the future influence 
of the Third Estate in moulding legislation and in 
effecting the needed reforms. It was a wise policy 
that the Third Estate adopted and it was one to 
which they persistently adhered. Its adoption by 
all the orders would have given the commons a 
preponderance in the Assembly, and it was this that 
the crown, the nobility and the bishops feared. The 
commons did not object to meet with the nobility; 
the nobility absolutely refused to meet with the 
commons, which refusal, on the part of the privi- 


leged orders, cast upon them the imputation of un- 
reasonable obstinacy; and, besides, it was gener- 
ally believed among the people that the refusal of 
the nobles to sit in the same hall with the commons 
was more a matter of social than political considera- 
tion. This belief did not tend to allay the public 
temper. The friends of the crown should have seen 
that the safety of the monarchy depended upon the 
bringing of the sessions of the States General to a 
conclusion at the earliest possible moment. De- 
lay at this time made the Revolution a certainty. 
The king could have formed the constitution in 
the early sessions of the States General, when he 
had the confidence of the people, if he had had a 
clearly defined policy and a minister of force and 
ability to execute it. He should have insisted upon 
the orders meeting in one body, for it was of vital 
importance to him to have the public business dis- 
patched and the congress dismissed at the earliest 
practicable moment, just so soon as the needed 
relief was secured. The separation of the orders 
only delayed the consideration of those questions 
that sooner or later had to be settled. These foolish 
divisions caused delay and delay worked an irrep- 
arable injury to the royal cause. The king, by 
failing to act promptly and decisively, lost his 
opportunity, and he was never able afterwards to 
recover the lost ground. Incapable of acting wisely, 
of his own motion, he was led astray by weak, 
time-serving, short-sighted advisers, and every day 
the breach between the orders grew wider. On the 
1 3th of May the bishops offered to mediate, but 
the parley resulted fruitlessly. The nobles still in- 


sisted upon separate chambers and under all circum- 
stances voting by order. 

During this period, while a policy of inaction and 
waiting was adopted by the commons as the only 
proper and safe one for them, under the conditions, 
to pursue, several incidents of importance occurred. 

The king's council, on the 6th of May, decided 
to repress certain publications that were disseminat- 
ing views entirely too liberal in the opinion of the 
crown for the public good. The special publica- 
tion that the order desired to reach was a periodi- 
cal entitled Etats Generaux, and was edited by 
Mirabeau, a most dangerous foe, under prevailing 
conditions, for the court to attack. The publication 
was designated " as injurious and bearing under 
the appearance of liberty all the characteristics of 
license." Its immediate suppression was ordered. 
The shaft fell short of the mark, for Mirabeau, 
straightway taking advantage of his position as a 
deputy to the States General, announced that here- 
after he would issue the paper as an address to his 
constituents, Lettres a mes Commettants. In re- 
ferring to the edict of the royal council, he said: 
" It is true, then, that instead of enfranchising the 
nation they seek only to rivet its chains ; it is in the 
face of the assembled nation that they dare to issue 
these Aulic decrees." He adroitly avoided any crit- 
icism of the king by placing the blame wholly upon 
the audacious ministers, as he styled them, who, he 
further said, were using their power to prevent a 
deputy of the people communicating with his con- 
stituents and informing them of the proceedings of 
the States General. The Assembly took cognizance 


of the matter and entered a solemn protest against 
the council's decree. It was a signal and most im- 
portant victory in the struggle for the freedom of 
the press. The decree was absolutely disregarded, 
the council openly defied, and the king failing, be- 
cause of his timidity, to enforce his own royal re- 
script, gave new courage and impulse to every lib- 
eral writer in the land. 

Another incident that occurred in the Assembly 
during this period of waiting is worth noting. A 
discussion was on, and Mounier, in speaking of 
Mirabeau, referred to him as Count. An obscure 
deputy, whose name is not even remembered, in- 
dignantly protested against the use of such a title 
in addressing any member of the Assembly. Mira- 
beau stoutly replied that he mocked himself of his 
title, that any one might take it and wear it who 
so desired, but as for himself, he only cared to be 
known as a representative of a great province and 
of a great constituency. 

Monsieur le Comte de Mirabeau was playing to 
the galleries, for in this connection it is worth while 
to recall that at a later date, on returning home 
from the Assembly, after having voted for the 
abolition of all titles and insignia of nobility, he 
took his servant by the ear and bawled in stentorian 
tones : " Look here, drole, I trust that to you, at 
least, I shall always be Monsieur le Comte." 

Oh ! this patrician of the Third Estate was very 
proud of his title, notwithstanding his dramatic dec- 
larations in the face of the multitude. It was a 
game in which only trumps counted, and Mira- 
beau, in his plays to the gallery, seldom lost a trick. 



The following letter, which he wrote while in 
England, seems to regard with contempt " the 
absurd pretence to family which," he said, " is 
so general in this land"; but, in truth, no man 
was ever prouder of his blood and title than 

" The first of a noble house should be a man 
whose fame immortalizes him, without any addi- 
tion which princes can bestow ; from such men all 
ought to be, and are, proud of descending, whether 
they flourished yesterday or ten years agone. The 
immortality which transcendent merit or great 
genius gives, is higher than all nobility. The names 
of Bacon, Shakespeare, Milton, and Newton will 
increase in splendor when the whole House of 
Lords, their ancestors, and descendants are buried 
in oblivion. Long after all the traces of family 
pedigrees, descents, and all the humbug of heraldry 
are ended, their names will go down to distant and 
enlightened ages, and be pronounced with delight 
by every tongue." 

The commons determined, on the I4th of May, 
to declare themselves the National Assembly, and 
invited the clergy to join them in the name of the 
God of Peace and the common weal. The clergy 
took the matter under advisement, and it required 
the most urgent appeals on the part of the bishops 
to hold the inferior members of the order in re- 
straint. The cures were anxious to break away and 
unite with the deputies of the people. 

The commons had the advantage during this 
period over the nobility and clergy, in that they 



were united in sentiment and purpose and had no 
dissentients in their ranks, in so far as the question 
of the union of the orders was concerned. On the 
other hand, the councils of the nobility were di- 
vided, many of their members favored the union, 
while among the clergy, outside of the bishops, the 
sentiment was strongly with the people's deputies. 

The Third Estate, from the beginning, believing 
that it was important that each order of the States 
General should be satisfied of the legitimacy of the 
other orders, insisted upon the verification of the 
powers of all the orders in common. The clergy 
favored separate verification by a vote of 133 to 
114, and the nobility by a vote of 188 to 114, a 
joint majority of only ninety- three. 

On the 27th of May the nobility sent to the 
commons their final decision, in which they de- 
clared that they would adhere to separate verifica- 
tion. Mirabeau replied to this with increasing au- 
dacity; he was becoming bolder in speech as time 
progressed ; his influence was beginning to dominate 
the convention. He gave courage to his colleagues, 
enthusiasm to the people, and impetus to the Revo- 
lution. He measured every inch of ground he cov- 
ered, and he never failed to step on solid footing. 
It is difficult to imagine what the course of the 
Revolution would have been without his influence 
and direction. Malouet and Mounier, from whom 
at first so much was expected, were always tem- 
porizing, trusting not in present decision and action, 
but hoping that delay would produce a remedy, and 
the future evolve a solution. Procrastination, with 
them, was not only the thief of time, but also of 


opportunity. When they halted, Mirabeau ad- 
vanced ; when they hesitated, he decided. He had 
a prophetic vision and seemed to see further into 
the future than other men; he could accurately 
forecast events and consequences. Often he spoke 
with the voice of Cassandra, for the people would 
not believe the truth of his prophecies. They were 
blind and would not see, they were deaf and would 
not hear. 

When he first appeared in the States General, his 
presence, as we have seen, provoked murmurs of 
disapprobation, even hisses. He had the confidence 
of no one ; the nobility scorned him, the clergy de- 
spised him, and the Third Estate feared and mis- 
trusted him; and yet this man, whose life had 
been a scandal, became the foremost statesman in 
France. In a few months, with his commanding 
talents and power, he so impressed himself upon his 
colleagues and the country at large that he stood 
forth boldly as the leader of the Liberal cause and 
became the genius and the impulse of the Revolu- 
tion. Even the king, in time, sought his aid to 
save the monarchy from plunging to total destruc- 

The first triumph of Mirabeau in the Assembly 
was when he defended his friend, M. Duroverai, 
under the following circumstances : Duroverai was 
seated in the hall among the deputies and was ob- 
served passing notes written in pencil to Mirabeau. 
One of the members, ascertaining that he was a 
stranger, rose to object, and stated that a foreigner, 
banished from his native country and pensioned by 
the English government, was interfering with the 


proceedings by assisting at the debates and passing 
notes to a certain deputy. 

" Who is he?" " Where is he?" were the ques- 
tions asked, and the session was throw r n into great 

Mirabeau rose and, addressing the Chamber, 
said : " I think, with the gentleman who spoke 
last, that no individual, not a deputy, whether he 
be a foreigner or a native, ought to be seated 
among us. 

" But the sacred ties of friendship, the still more 
holy claims of humanity, and the respect I have for 
this Assembly of patriots and friends, render it an 
imperative duty on my part to separate from the 
simple question of order the odious accusation 
which he has had the assurance to couple with it. 

" He has dared to assert that, among the numer- 
ous strangers who are assisting at our proceedings, 
there is an exile, one who has taken refuge in Eng- 
land and is in the pay of the king of Great Britain. 
Now this stranger, this exile, this refugee, is M. 
Duroverai, of Geneva, one of the most respectable 
citizens in the world. Never had freedom a more 
enlightened, a more laborious, nor a more disin- 
terested advocate! 

" From his youth, he was appointed by his coun- 
trymen to assist in the framing of a code of laws 
intended to place the constitution of his country on 
a permanent basis. Nothing was more beautiful, 
nothing more philosophically political, than the law 
in favor of the natives. He was one of its framers. 
This law, so little known, yet so deserving of gen- 
eral attention, establishes the following principle: 


' That all republics have perished, nay, more, de- 
served to perish, for having oppressed the people, 
and not having known that they who governed, can 
preserve their own liberty only by respecting that 
of their brethren.' 

" Elected attorney-general of Geneva by the 
unanimous voice of his fellow-citizens, M. Durov- 
erai incurred, from that moment, the hatred of the 
aristocrats. They swore his ruin ; and, certain that 
this intrepid magistrate would never cease to em- 
ploy the authority of his office in defence of the in- 
dependence of his country, they succeeded in ob- 
taining his dismissal through the interference of a 
despotic minister. 

" But, even in the midst of party hatred and the 
intrigues of base factions, M. Duroverai's charac- 
ter was respected even by calumny itself, whose foul 
breath never sullied a single action of his life. 

" Included in the proscription which the aristo- 
crats obtained from the destroyers of Genevese in- 
dependence, he retired to England, and will, doubt- 
less, never abdicate the honors of exile until free- 
dom shall once more resume her sway at Geneva. 

" A large number of the most respectable citizens 
of Great Britain took up the cause of the proscribed 
republican, procured him the most flattering recep- 
tion in their country, and induced their government 
to grant him a pension. This was in the nature of 
a civic crown, awarded by that modern people 
whom the tutelar genius of the human race seems 
especially to have appointed to guard and officiate 
at the altars of freedom. . . . 

" Behold, then, the stranger, the exile, the ref- 
15 225 


ugee, who has been denounced to you ! Heretofore 
the persecuted man sought refuge at the altar where 
he found an inviolable asylum, and escaped from 
the rage of the wicked. The hall in which we are 
now assembled is the temple which, in the name of 
Frenchmen, you are raising to liberty, and will you 
suffer it to be polluted by an outrage committed 
upon a martyr of liberty?" 

:< The impression produced by the speech," says 
Dumont, " was electrical. It was succeeded by a 
universal burst of applause. Nothing that resem- 
bled this force and dignity of elocution had ever 
been heard before in this tumultuous Assembly of 
the Tiers Etat. Duroverai was immediately sur- 
rounded by deputies who, by their kind attentions, 
endeavored to atone for the insult they had offered 

It was at this period that Mirabeau's firmness 
and boldness gave courage to the halting and the 
timid. The slightest yielding or surrender by the 
Third Estate to the other orders would have 
changed the direction of the Revolution, and it re- 
quired the energy, the audacity, the prescience, and 
the wisdom of such a leader to direct its course. 
It was in this early period of the Revolution that 
the seeds of its success were sown. 

When the nobility sent their final decision to the 
commons that they would not sit with the Third 
Estate, Mirabeau indignantly denounced such con- 
duct. He held them up to scorn for assuming that 
they constituted " a legislative and sovereign cham- 
ber." Insolently, defiantly, he assailed them for 
their stubborn, unreasonable, and unpatriotic 


course, and he closed by calling- on the Third Estate 
to name at once a deputation to wait upon the 
clergy and appeal to them, in the cause of peace, 
to join the commons; but the bishops, when the 
appeal was made, urged further consideration and 
pleaded for delay. 

The clergy thought to gain a point by calling on 
the commons to organize at once and to co-operate 
with the clergy, as a separate order, that the press- 
ing miseries of the poor might be relieved. It was 
a clever ruse, and it required delicate handling. To 
carry out the plan, a prince of the church, the Arch- 
bishop of Aix, was delegated to visit the hall of the 
Third Estate. He eloquently and pathetically urged 
the deputies to delay no longer needed legislation 
by quibbling over unimportant and non-essential 
matters, and drawing from under his purple robe a 
lump of black bread, he exclaimed : " Such is the 
food of the peasant." The commons hesitated, for 
it might be dangerous to reject so seemingly fair, 
so apparently charitable a proposition. Even Mira- 
beau was puzzled; but at this moment an obscure 
deputy arose and, turning to the archbishop, said : 
" Go and tell your colleagues that if they are so im- 
patient to assist the suffering poor, they had better 
come here and join the friends of the people. It is 
vain to employ stratagem like this to induce us to 
change our firm resolution. Tell them to embarrass 
no longer our proceedings with affected delays, but 
as ministers of religion, let them forego that luxury 
which surrounds them, and that splendor which 
puts indigence to the blush. We refer the clergy to 
the principles of the primitive church. The ancient 


canons authorized them to sell even the sacred vases 
for the relief of the poor. Let them resume the 
modesty of their origin, discharge the insolent lack- 
eys by whom they are attended, sell their superb 
equipages, and convert their superfluous wealth into 
food for the indigent." The speech fully answered 
the proposition, and the archbishop withdrew. 

" Who is the speaker?" was the question asked, 
but he was known only to a few, and it was some 
time before his name was circulated. He was 
Robespierre. Mirabeau, who was a good judge 
of character, remarked : " That man will go far, 
for he believes what he says." 

Maximilien Marie Isidor Robespierre was the 
son of a village lawyer at Arras, in the Province 
of Artois. There is no character among all the 
leaders of the Revolution so difficult to understand, 
none whose motives have been so unfathomable, be- 
cause his conduct stood in such contrast to his seem- 
ingly natural disposition. This man who wept over 
the death of a pet bird, who recoiled from imposing 
sentence of death on a desperate assassin, became 
the bloodthirsty leader of the Revolution and, 
under his inhuman proscriptions, satisfied to the full 
the voracious appetite of the guillotine, by sending 
daily to execution both friend and foe. 

He was timid, secretive, reticent, and reserved. 
He had those qualities that reveal themselves in 
deeds, not in words. He was vain, conceited and 
ambitious. He was neither sordid nor avaricious. 
He could be neither cajoled, bribed, nor driven. He 
neither fawned upon his friends nor flattered his 
enemies. He asked no favors from the mighty. 


He was absolutely wanting in that magnetism 
that attracts men, and that open candor that wins 
friends; and yet he developed, in time, a won- 
derful power of impressing and influencing men. 
He had the genius of application and persistency. 
He pursued the even tenor of his way with a pur- 
pose well denned, and he followed the object of his 
ambition without deviation and with an indefati- 
gable industry. One by one his enemies fell before 
him and, at last, he became the dictator of the Rev- 
olution. He was the master mind that directed and 
controlled it. This timid, insignificant creature 
pushed his way through a crowd of mighty revolu- 
tionary leaders, forged to the front and wielded 
a power greater than any of them had ever ex- 
ercised. He was the uncrowned plebeian king, 
tyrant, if you will, of France, the incarnation of the 
Reign of Terror. We may sneer and scoff at him 
as much as we please; our prejudices, because of 
his brutal and bloody policy, may influence our 
judgment of his character, but there was in him an 
innate force, a persistent energy, an intellectual 
power, a relentless, a remorseless, an inflexible 
determination that can be appreciated only when 
we weigh his natural disadvantages, the obstacles 
he had to overcome, and consider the position he 
attained, the influence he exerted, and the results 
he reached. Simply to describe him in the lan- 
guage of Carlyle as "sea green, incorruptible," 
conveys no idea of his mental and moral qualities. 
Such a character cannot be dismissed by so feeble 
a description. 

When he was seven years of age, his mother died 


and his father abandoned him. He was virtually a 
waif. By the kind intercession of the Bishop of 
Arras, he secured a scholarship in the College of 
Louis le Grand, at Paris. In this institution he re- 
mained for ten years. So correct was he in his con- 
duct, so attentive to his studies, that the council of 
the college, at the time of his graduation, rewarded 
him with a special commendation and accorded him 
a gratification of 600 livres. 

Returning to his native town, he was, in due 
time, registered as an attorney and soon acquired 
the reputation of being a reliable, painstaking mem- 
ber of his profession, but in no sense a brilliant ad- 

Some time after his admission to the bar, several 
peasants who complained of being oppressed by the 
Bishop of Arras, retained Robespierre to represent 
them. He fought the case earnestly, and, in conse- 
quence, brought down upon himself the bitter re- 
sentment of the clergy. They charged him with 
ingratitude to the bishop, who had protected him 
when he needed a patron. The criticism was just, 
Robespierre should have declined the case. He 
owed a duty to his benefactor, and no public neces- 
sity required him to oppose his friend and former 

During his early days while at the bar, he was 
neat and fastidious in the matter of his dress. He 
was somewhat of a dandy, he affected poetry, loved 
birds and flowers, and delighted to wander alone in 
the fields. His favorite author was Rousseau. Al- 
though shy and melancholy, he was fond of femi- 
nine society, but nev^r had the courage to marry. 


He was appointed to the bench, as a judge in the 
criminal court, and was called upon to sentence a 
murderer to capital punishment, which duty so af- 
fected him, that he shortly afterwards sent in his 

When the States General was summoned, he was 
elected a deputy of the Third Estate. He went to 
Paris, unknown, poor in purse and without influ- 
ence. In the Assembly, at first, he made a most 
unfavorable impression. " His mean countenance, 
his stiffness and timidity, the constant tension of 
his muscles and his voice, his straining utterance 
and his short-sighted look, left a painful, tiresome 
impression which people tried to get rid of by 
laughing at him." 

" I had twice occasion to converse with Robes- 
pierre," says Dumont. " He had a sinister expres- 
sion of countenance, never looked you in the face 
and had a continual and unpleasant winking of the 
eyes . . . He told me that he was a prey to the 
most childish timidity, that he never approached 
the tribune without trembling, and that when he 
began to speak, his faculties were entirely absorbed 
by fear." 

Whenever he addressed the Assembly, his col- 
leagues contemptuously smiled and scoffed at his 
labored effort. These insults galled his vanity and 
his sensitive nature. Mirabeau was the one man 
in the Assembly who, discerning his real sincerity, 
took no part in these indignities. 

It seemed audacious for such a man to speak in 
a body so crowded with brilliant orators. Failure, 
however, did not crush him, it only spurred him to 


renewed effort. He had the temper of the puritan 
and the spirit of the fanatic. He believed he had a 
mission to perform, and he could not be dissuaded 
by defeat nor confounded by ridicule. He carried 
his mortification home to his humble lodging and 
brooded over it. 

Interrupted and howled down by the deputies, 
he turned to the Club of the Jacobins, and there he 
obtained a hearing, for the members recognized 
him as one who was sincere in his professions and 
earnest in his advocacy of the popular cause. 
When, in the Assembly, if his colleagues would 
not listen, he could always appeal to the galleries. 
It hardly seemed possible that the time would come 
when the deputies would not only listen when he 
spoke, but tremble. He surely, at this period, gave 
no intimation of his future powers, except, perhaps, 
to the far-seeing vision of Mirabeau. 

Robespierre, while in Paris, lived frugally on 
the salary he received as deputy, one-fourth of 
which he sent to his sister at Arras, one-fourth to a 
mistress who loved him passionately, but whom he 
seldom saw. His lodgings, cold and cheerless, 
were located in a dismal and deserted quarter of 
the city. His dinners cost thirty sous and he had 
hardly enough money to pay for his clothes. 
" When the Assembly," says Michelet, " decreed a 
general mourning for the death of Franklin, Robes- 
pierre was extremely embarrassed. He borrowed 
a black stuff coat of a man much taller than him- 
self, and the coat dragged four inches on the 
ground. * Nihil habet paupertas durius in se quam 
quod ridiculos homines facit.' ' 


His energy never flagged. He was in constant 
attendance upon the daily sessions of the Assem- 
bly, and at night was a regular visitor at his club, 
where he argued those questions that the Assem- 
bly would not let him discuss. He displayed the 
greatest prudence in not attempting to outstrip the 
Revolution. He kept pace with it. "He was," 
says Lamartine, " of no party, but of all parties 
which in their turn served his ideal of the Revolu- 
tion. . . . The Revolution, decimated in its pro- 
gress, must one day or other inevitably arrive at a 
last stage, and he desired it should end in himself." 
It did end in himself, but at a time and in a manner 
that he did not expect. 

" He was," said Napoleon, " the true scapegoat 
of the Revolution." Perhaps he was made a sacri- 
fice for the sins of others, but, heaven knows, he 
had enough of his own to answer for. 

George Henry Lewes believes that he honestly 
tried " to arrest anarchy and to shape society in 
order according to his convictions." Watson says : 
" However chimerical, Robespierre's ideals were 
lofty and he lived by them and died for them." Dr. 
Jan Ten Brink, in his careful study of " Robes- 
pierre and the Red Terror," declares that : " Still, 
in spite of all, he was an honorable character, a 
spirit fired with the noblest ideals, but a statesman 
without political ability, an obstinate fanatic desti- 
tute of genius." 

He may have had high ideals, he may have 

mapped out in his mind a great future for France, 

but his past had given no guarantee that he could be 

depended upon to add to her glory or her security. 



When the crisis came, he had not the courage to 
" dare." In his last struggle, he displayed a weak- 
ness that by some of his admirers is taken for vir- 
tue. It is hard to believe that any man with such a 
trail of blood as that which marked the career of 
Robespierre would have hesitated to shed more 
blood because of any moral compunctions or patri- 
otic considerations. 

He became spiritless, suddenly supine, and was 
overthrown by men no more worthy of confidence 
than he was. His continued power would have 
resulted in further bloodshed; his death was a 
blessing to France, for it caused a reaction against 
" The Terror." 






IN June the king had a sorrow in his household, 
the dauphin was dying. A year before this, all 
France would have been hushed in grief. The na- 
tion, loyal to the crown, would have sorrowed for 
the death of its little king in embryo; but now, 
amidst storm and strife, the feeble life went out, 
and the people, engrossed in more important mat- 
ters, hardly noted the event. Princes had lost their 
charm. Royalty and loyalty were getting far 
apart. Fortunate boy! He died just in time to 
escape the bitter days in store for him, to escape 
the trouble that would have been too heavy for 
such a weakling to bear. 

Five weeks had elapsed since the first meeting of 
the States General, and during this time the many 
parleys between the orders had come to naught. 
The people were growing more impatient day by 
day and it became necessary, in order to quiet the 
public mind, that something decisive should be 
done. Mirabeau declared that " any plan of con- 
ciliation rejected by one party can no longer be ex- 


amined by the other. A month is past ; it is time to 
take a decisive step; a deputy of Paris has an im- 
portant motion to make, let us hear him." He 
then introduced to the tribune Abbe Sieyes, who 
moved that the nobility and the clergy should be 
invited to meet with the Third Estate to verify the 
powers, which verification would take place whether 
they were absent or present. 

The call to the higher orders to join the Third Es- 
tate reads as follows : " We are commissioned by 
the deputies of the Commons of France to apprize 
you that they can no longer delay the fulfilment of 
the obligation imposed on all the representatives of 
the nation. It is assuredly time that those that 
claim this quality should make themselves known 
by a common verification of their powers, and begin 
at once to attend to the national interest. From the 
necessity which the representatives of the nation are 
under to proceed to business, the deputies of the 
Commons entreat you, and their duty enjoins them 
to address you, as well individually as collectively, a 
last summons to come to the Hall of the States to 
attend, concur in and submit, like themselves, to the 
common verification of powers. We are, at the 
same time, directed to inform you that the general 
call of all the bailliages convoked will take place in 
an hour, that the Assembly will immediately pro- 
ceed to the verification and that such as do not ap- 
pear will be declared defaulters." 

There was no misunderstanding the language 
and the purpose of this call. " This was the first 
revolution :;ry act," says Thiers. 

The invitation not having been accepted, the 


commons constituted themselves the national legis- 
lative body of France. This was a bold but a wise 
move, for the convention of delegates, representing 
the people, was now the only legally constituted 
legislative assembly in the kingdom. They formed 
not an order, but a congress of popular representa- 
tives created by a legitimate authority. 

On the first day of the calling of the roll and the 
presentation of the credentials, three cures entered 
the Assembly; on the second day, six, and on the 
third and fourth days, ten. It goes without saying 
that they were greeted with most enthusiastic ac- 

The next important move was to give a name to 
the convention, and the debate on this question, 
strange to say, was most acrimonious and produced 
a very bitter feeling among the delegates. 

Mirabeau proposed as a title " Representatives of 
the French People" ; Legrand, that of " National 
Assembly" ; Mounier, that of " Deliberative Ma- 
jority in the absence of the Minority." It would 
have been surprising if the last designation had 
been adopted, for the very title suggested a doubt 
as to the legal and reasonable existence of the body 
as a national legislative assembly. 

Mirabeau's speech on this question aroused the 
most bitter antagonism. He was boldly assailed 
and hissed, and was absent when the final vote was 
taken. He contended that the commons had no 
right to usurp the entire legislative power, although 
he favored separate and independent organization 
of the Third Estate. 

" To call themselves," he said, " a National As- 


sembly would be to depreciate to the lowest de- 
gree, the king, the nobles and the clergy, it would, 
if the government displayed any vigor, prove the 
beginning of civil war. To vote themselves simply 
an Assembly of the Commons, would, on the other 
hand, be only expressing an undoubted fact and 
would not force the nobles and the clergy to join 
them ; it merely maintained the sub-divisions of the 
Assembly then existing." 

As he proceeded further, his warmth increased 
and he declared the deputies failed to understand in 
its full meaning the term " people" in his suggested 
or proposed title, " Assembly of the French Peo- 

" I persevere," he said (this peroration Dumont 
claims to have written), " in my motion and in its 
only expression that has called forth animadver- 
sion, I mean the denomination of French people. 
I adopt it, defend it, and 1 proclaim it for the very 
reason urged in objection to it. Yes! it is because 
the term ' people' is not sufficiently respected in 
France that it is cast into the shade and covered 
with the rust of prejudice, because it presents an 
idea alarming to our pride and revolting to our 
vanity, and is pronounced with contempt in the 
chamber of the aristocrats . . . Do you not per- 
ceive that you require the word ' people,' because 
it shows the people that you have united your fate 
to theirs. And it will teach them to centre in you 
all their thoughts and all their hopes! The Bata- 
vian heroes, who founded the liberties of their coun- 
try, were more able tacticians than we are. They 
adopted the denomination ' gueux/ or beggarly 


fellows; they chose this title because their tyrants 
had endeavored to cast it upon them as a term of 
opprobrium, and this designation, by attaching to 
their party that numerous and powerful class, so 
degraded by the despotism of the aristocracy, was, 
at the same time, their glory, their strength, and the 
pledge of their success. The friends of freedom 
select the name which is most useful to them, and 
not that by which they are most flattered. They 
are called ' remonstrators' in America ; ' shepherds' 
in Switzerland and ' gueux' beggars in the Low 

Mirabeau, after he finished his speech, stood in a 
defiant attitude, but calm and self-possessed. The 
deputies assailed him with shouts and imprecations. 
It was in the course of his remarks that he declared 
himself in favor of the royal veto, saying that in his 
view, the king's veto was so essential a part of the 
constitution, that without it, he would rather live in 
Constantinople than in France, and that he could 
conceive nothing more alarming than the despotic 
oligarchy of six hundred individuals. This bold 
declaration specially aroused the anger of the radi- 

Dumont, who witnessed the scene, says that 
Mirabeau delivered the peroration in " a voice of 
thunder which was heard with a species of terror, 
and produced an extraordinary effect. It was suc- 
ceeded not by cries, but by convulsions of rage. 
The agitation was general and a storm of invec- 
tives burst upon the speaker from all parts of the 

Dumont further says that an hour after the deliv- 


ery of the speech he called on Mirabeau, and found 
him triumphant. " He compared the Assembly to 
wild asses, who had obtained from nature no other 
faculty than that of kicking and biting. They did 
not frighten me, my dear friend, and in a week you 
shall see me more powerful than ever. . . . The 
thinkers will see something very profound in my 
motion. As for the fools, I despise them too much 
to hate them, and will save them in spite of them- 

Dumont adds : " With all this excess of pride 
and temporary courage, he had not sufficient firm- 
ness to attend at the call of the house. He did 
not, therefore, vote upon the question, and thus 
it was that his name did not appear upon the 
list of deputies held up to the people as traitors. 
Even his popularity did not suffer at the Palais 
Royal, whilst Malouet, Mounier, and several 
others who had maintained the same opinions 
less openly, were delivered over to public cen- 

" Outside the Assembly," says Arthur Young, 
" the motion of Mirabeau was better relished than 
that of the Abbe Sieyes. But his character is a 
dead weight upon him. There is a suspicion that 
he has received 100,000 livres from the queen." 

The Abbe Sieyes carried the convention with 
him, when he argued and clearly demonstrated that 
the deputies of the Third Estate represented ninety- 
six one-hundredths of the nation; that conse- 
quently they were entitled to be called " The Na- 
tional Assembly" ; that certain duties had been im- 
posed upon them by the nation, and that the will of 


the people would be annulled if the privileged or- 
ders persisted in their obstinate, unreasonable and 
unpatriotic policy. The convention, when organ- 
ized, will be ready at all times to welcome the other 
orders, the doors will be left open, but they cannot 
and should not any longer, by their refusal to co- 
operate with the Third Estate, defeat the purpose 
of the calling of the States General. It is alleged 
that this plan of action was advised by Thomas 
Jefferson, whose whole spirit was in touch with 
the purposes and the principles of the Revolution. 
There was much in common between Jefferson and 
Sieyes; they were both subtle, ingenious, clear- 
headed and intriguing politicians. They encom- 
passed their ends by quiet, persistent work; they 
were masters in the art of scheming. They were 
not orators, but, possessing facile pens, they ex- 
pressed their thoughts, in writing, clearly and suc- 
cinctly. They were close students of public ques- 
tions, and their taste and thoughts ran in the same 
channel. They were patriotic, but not always con- 
sistent in their policies and actions. They both be- 
longed to the same school of politics and philoso- 
phy; they were avaricious of place and power; 
believed in the equality of men before the law, and 
affected to despise the distinctions of class in social 
as well as in political life. Although writing in 
different tongues, it is remarkable what a close re- 
semblance there is in their literary styles. If there 
ever was a Frenchman who could have written the 
American Declaration of Independence, it was the 
Abbe Sieyes. 

Most of the delegates were anxious to have the 
16 241 


convention settle the question of designation at 
once, and they urged immediate consideration and 
action. A small number of deputies, however, for 
some reason or other, desiring to delay the matter, 
excitedly called for adjournment. The session was 
thrown into an uproar, for the minority, though 
small, made up in noise what they lacked in num- 
bers. The weather was stormy and tempestuous 
and the wind howled around and through the build- 
ing, greatly adding to the confusion. During all 
this contention, Bailly, the president, sat unmoved 
and refused to put the motions. The minority, at 
last, withdrew, and when quiet was restored, the 
president suggested that further consideration of 
the matter should be postponed until daylight, for 
it was then about three o'clock in the morning. 
The convention, acting upon his advice, adjourned, 
and on the i/th of May, the title "The National 
Assembly" was adopted by a vote of 491 to 90. 

The duty of explaining the motives of the con- 
vention in organizing and designating itself " The 
National Assembly" was intrusted to Sieyes, and 
he acquitted himself with great honor and success. 
Sieyes was leading the commons, for he, unques- 
tionably, at this time, was one of the master minds 
of the convention. 

Emmanuel Joseph Sieyes, commonly called 
Abbe Sieyes, was forty-one years of age when the 
States General convened. He had been educated 
for the church, but early turned his attention to the 
study of social and political questions, and was 
more of a philosopher than a priest. While at 
Saint Sulpice, completing his theological studies, he 


wrote much, and in his writings proved that he be- 
longed to the school of advanced thought; it was 
consequently intimated to him that he might find 
more congenial quarters elsewhere, and upon this 
hint he departed and took refuge in a more friendly 
seminary, where he prepared for his degree at the 
Sorbonne. From philosophy and theology he 
turned to practical politics, and in 1788, just on 
the eve of the Revolution, published a pamphlet 
which attracted public attention and had a remark- 
able success. He asked : " What is the Third Es- 
tate?" And then answered his own question by 
saying, " Everything !" " What has it been till 
now ?" " Nothing." " What does it desire to be ?" 
" Something!" 

The clerical order neglected to send him as a 
delegate to the States General, but at the last mo- 
ment he was taken up by the Third Estate and 
elected as one of its representatives. 

In the early stages of the Revolution, he materi- 
ally aided the popular cause, but was not responsi- 
ble for its subsequent excesses. His victory over 
Mirabeau on the motion to designate the conven- 
tion as the National Assembly, was notable, and it 
required courage of heart and soul to take so bold a 

Sieyes favored the assumption of the legislative 
power by the deputies of the Third Estate to the 
exclusion of the other orders, which view, in the 
opinion of the privileged classes, was paramount 
to treason, and if the Revolution at that time had 
been stayed the Abbe, perhaps, would have had to 
answer as a traitor. He was prudent enough, how- 


ever, to have Legrand put the original motion. He 
was not an orator, and in the stormy days of the 
Revolution he withdrew from active participation 
in leadership. 

He survived the Revolution and schemed with 
Napoleon and Ducos to establish the Consulate, by 
which he became one of the rulers of France. He 
could not, of course, cope with Napoleon, and at 
last retired to private life to enjoy his wealth, his 
books, and the delights of a well-earned leisure. 

Bourrienne, in his Memoirs of Napoleon, says: 
" In the intercourse, not very frequent, certainly, 
which I had with him he appeared to be very far 
beneath the reputation which he had acquired. 
Sieyes had written in his countenance, ' Give me 
money.' I recollect that I one day alluded to this 
expression in the anxious face of Sieyes to the first 
consul. * You are right/ observed he to me, smiling, 
' when money is in question, Sieyes is quite a mat- 
ter of fact man. He sends his ideology to the right 
about, and thus becomes easily manageable. He 
readily abandons his constitutional dreams for a 
good round sum, and that is very convenient/ One 
day when Talleyrand was conversing with the 
second consul, Cambaceres said, ' Sieyes is a very 
profound man/ ' Profound !' said Talleyrand, 
' yes, he is a cavity, a perfect cavity.' ' 

Criticisms coming from this source must be taken 
with considerable reservation. Sieyes may not 
have been a very profound man, but he unquestion- 
ably displayed great wisdom in the early years of 
the Revolution, and under circumstances that re- 
quired the exercise of sound and safe judgment. 


Mirabeau described him as " a metaphysician trav- 
elling on a map." 

The National Assembly through Sieyes, who 
was deputed to speak for it, declared that " the 
denomination of National Assembly is the only 
one suitable to the Assembly in the present state of 
things, as well because the members who compose 
it are the only representatives legitimately and pub- 
licly known and verified, as because they are sent by 
nearly the whole of the nation ; and lastly because 
the representation being one and indivisible, none 
of the deputies, for whatever order or class he has 
been elected, has a right to exercise those functions 
separately from this Assembly." 

The paper further declared that the Assembly 
would never cease to hope that the absent deputies 
would, in time, be gathered in its bosom, nor will 
it ever cease to call upon them to fulfil the obliga- 
tions the nation had imposed upon them when the 
decree was entered for the holding of the States 

In the exercise of its power the Assembly legal- 
ized the levy of taxes though imposed without the 
national consent. This wise resolution was passed 
simply to show the court and the nation that it was 
not the purpose of the Assembly to impede the 
course of the administration of the constituted au- 

This assumption of legislative power on the part 
of the Assembly, composed of the deputies of the 
Third Estate, caused the greatest excitement and 
enthusiasm throughout France. The representa- 
tives had shown not only courage, but great wis- 


dom. Every step had been deliberately taken, and 
the reasons given were logical, just, wise, and 

The clergy could no longer restrain the liberal 
cures, and a vote being taken, the poll showed 149 
votes to 115 in favor of the union of the orders. 

The nobility and the hierarchy, aroused and 
startled by the action of the Assembly, determined 
to act promptly and decisively, for further delay 
meant danger. To stem the tide, the king was be- 
sought by the nobility and the higher clergy to in- 
terfere with his royal authority lest all should be 
lost. But poor Louis was between two fires; 
Necker on one side, and the queen and the higher 
orders on the other. 

Necker's plan was a compromise providing for 
a union of all the orders, but restricting the powers 
of the Assembly. It was a temporary, half-hearted 
measure that came too late. Mirabeau said of 
Necker, " He is like a clock that always goes too 
slow." Even this plan was not agreed to by the 
nobility, and a royal sitting was ordered to take 
place on the 22d of June. A subsequent procla 
mation postponed the sitting from Monday, the 
22d, to Tuesday, the 23d. 

Necker's plan having been rejected, he decided 
not to attend the royal sitting, and tendered his res - 
ignation as minister, but the Count of Artois an- 
grily exclaimed : " No, we will not accept the resig- 
nation, but will keep you as a hostage, for you 
have aroused all this trouble." 

On the 2Oth the hall of the Assembly was closed, 
under the pretext that it was necessary to prepare it 


for the king's presence. The Assembly had ad- 
journed on the i Qth to meet on the following day, 
and Bailly, its president, believing it his duty to 
attend, in compliance with the resolution, repaired 
to the hall, but found it surrounded by soldiers of 
the French Guards. The deputies, gathering in 
numbers, protested against this outrage and clam- 
ored for admittance, but Bailly, with his usual pru- 
dence and good judgment, appealed to them to act 
wisely and not to injure the popular cause by allow- 
ing their temper to blind their wisdom and direct 
their conduct. Finding it impossible to enter the 
hall, a deputy proposed that they should go to 
Marly and hold a session under the windows of 
the king's palace, a royal sitting in earnest, but 
not in accordance with the wishes of the king, and 
two days before the date assigned by Louis for the 
august meeting at which he was personally to pre- 
side. A wiser head suggested that they should ad- 
journ to the Tennis Court, and the suggestion was 
immediately acted upon. 

" The Tennis Court," says Michelet, " was a mis- 
erable, ugly, poor, and unfurnished building, but 
the better on that account. The Assembly also was 
poor and represented the people . . . They re- 
mained standing all day long, having scarcely a 
wooden bench. It was like the manger of the new 
religion its stable of Bethlehem !" 

It is a shrine, a venerated spot sacred to the holy 
cause of liberty. It was here that the voices of 
humble but brave men were heard, vowing in sol- 
emn oath to release their land from tyranny. Like 
Faneuil Hall, in Boston, and the State House, in 


Philadelphia, it is one of the world's cradles of 

To this cheerless, dreary hall the deputies 
marched in procession with Bailly at their head, fol- 
lowed by a crowd of enthusiastic people. The hall 
was spacious, without seating accommodations. An 
arm-chair was provided for the president, but he 
declined its use, declaring that he would rather 
stand with his colleagues. 

Indignant protests were made against the unjust 
and unwarranted suspension of the sittings, and 
plans were suggested to prevent a repetition of such 
interference. Some of the ardent spirits proposed 
that the Assembly should march to Paris, but Bailly 
persuaded them against this, fearing that the depu- 
ties might subject themselves to insult and violence. 
Mounier then moved they should bind themselves 
by an oath not to separate until they had framed 
and established a constitution for France. This 
motion was received with acclaim. The multitude 
that had crowded into the hall joined in the ap- 
plause, and amidst the greatest enthusiasm the dele- 
gates, with upraised hands and uncovered heads, 
entered into a solemn league and covenant. In 
unison, their voices rang out in clear tones : " We 
take a solemn oath never to separate, and to assem- 
ble wherever circumstances shall require, till the 
constitution of the kingdom is established and 
founded on a solid basis." Only one deputy, Mar- 
tin d'Auch, when the declaration was signed by the 
delegates, wrote opposite his name, " opposer." 
After this act he passed into oblivion. 

This oath was an earnest of the purpose of the 


Assembly and gave notice that the days of arbitrary 
rule were numbered. It was an event that marked 
an epoch in the world's civilization as well as in 
the regeneration of France. 

After the taking of the oath the Assembly ad- 
journed to meet on the following day at the same 
place, but when the deputies gathered at the ap- 
pointed hour they were refused admission because 
the princes had leased the hall for a game of ten- 
nis, as usual, the amusements of the court were 
of first and paramount importance. What a dan- 
gerous game these foolish courtiers were playing! 
How little did they read and heed the future! 

On the 22d, when the deputies found the tennis 
court closed against them, they knew not where to 
go. Some one suggested the monastery of the Rec- 
ollets, but when the deputies requested admission 
the frightened monks shut the door in their faces. 

The Church of St. Louis was named and thither 
they repaired. The Third Estate, houseless and 
homeless, found refuge at last in the sanctuary of 

The majority of the clergy, with the Arch- 
bishop of Vienne at their head, joined the As- 
sembly and submitted to the common verification. 
The union was greeted with transports of joy. 

The memorable 23d of June at last arrived. The 
Salle des Menus had been made ready for the 
royal sitting. Court painters, carpenters, uphol- 
sterers, decorators, and designers had been ac- 
tively employed preparing the great hall for the 
reception of the king. The masters of ceremony, 
too, were again at work. Fresh humiliations were 


put upon the people's representatives. They were 
to enter at a side door, the nobility and the clergy 
through a more imposing entrance. " Weakness 
was playing at the dangerous game of humili- 
ating the strong for the last time," says Michel et. 
It was a like discrimination that had offended the 
commons at the first meeting of the States Gen- 
eral. The Bourbons, in the meanwhile, had 
learned nothing by experience. These prefer- 
ences and class distinctions further irritated the 
temper of the Third Estate. 

When Bailly arrived at the hall, he found the 
door through which the commons were to enter 
locked. He knocked repeatedly, but the answer 
always came, " It is not yet time." The deputies, 
standing in the rain, " humiliated, wet, and dirty," 
had about decided to depart, when the door opened. 
Upon entering the hall, they found the higher or- 
ders comfortably seated in the choice locations. 
The nobles were amused at the bedraggled and dis- 
consolate appearance of the people's representatives. 

The king, the nobility, the clergy, and the Third 
Estate had not met in joint convention since the 
fifth of May, but the meeting now presented a to- 
tally different appearance from that splendid and 
memorable occasion. Then all was joy and prom- 
ise, now all was gloom and apprehension. The 
sentiments and hopes of the first session of the 
States General had vanished, and now a feeling of 
sullenness and mistrust possessed the commons. 
The king had been keyed for the occasion ; he as- 
sumed a dictatorial air, a commanding tone, which 
were not in any sense impressive, for he was too 


weak in character and disposition to be earnest in 
manner or determined in purpose. He had been ad- 
vised that this was the only safe plan to pursue, but 
he was a poor player to enact such a role. Instead 
of intimidating the commons, he only irritated 
them ; instead of enforcing obedience, he aroused a 
rebellious spirit. So flimsy was the guise, that he 
provoked a feeling of pity rather than contempt. 
The deputies knew that he was speaking for others, 
not for himself. 

He had not been welcomed with applause. No 
cries of " Vive le Roi !" rang through the hall, for 
the commons had decided to remain silent, Mira- 
beau declaring that " the silence of the people is 
the lesson of kings." It was a grave and solemn 
meeting, that foreboded trouble. 

Since the commons had last seen the king, seven 
weeks had intervened, but in that interval of time 
the Third Estate had organized a National Assem- 
bly, had passed laws, and had taken an oath not to 
separate until they had established a constitution. 

Louis, in his speech, enjoined the separation of 
the orders, he annulled the resolutions and declara- 
tions of the National Assembly, and stated that the 
feudal rights were property, and as such, were in- 
violable. His speech was a discordant note from 
beginning to end. When the king finished his re- 
marks, the nobility applauded, but it is said that 
during the applause a loud, stern voice proceeding 
from the commons' deputies cried out, " Silence ! 
there." This sounded like the roar of the lion. In 
the absence of anything to the contrary, we may 
presume it was Mirabeau who spoke. 


The king, after concluding his ill-timed speech, 
ordered the Assembly to separate at once and to 
meet the following day in the chambers assigned to 
the several orders. Without further ado, his Maj- 
esty retired from the hall, followed by the nobility 
and part of the clergy. 

The commons, again deserted by the other or- 
ders, sat for a time in silence, which silence at last 
was broken by Mirabeau, who said : " I admit that 
what you have just heard might be for the welfare 
of the country, were it not that the presents of des- 
potism are always dangerous. What is this insult- 
ing dictatorship ? The pomp of arms, the violation 
of the national temple are resorted to, to command 
you to be happy! Who gives these commands? 
Your mandatory, he who should rather receive 
them from you, gentlemen, from us, who are in- 
vested with a political and an inviolable priesthood ; 
from us, in a word, to whom alone twenty-five mil- 
lions of men are looking for certain happiness. But 
the liberty of your discussions is enchained, a mili- 
tary force surrounds the Assembly ! Is Catiline at 
our gates? I demand investing yourselves with 
your dignity, with your legislative power ; you en- 
close yourselves within the religion of your oath. It 
does not permit you to separate till you have formed 
a constitution." 

H : speech was timely and was warmly ap- 
plai ..ed. It aroused the greatest enthusiasm in the 
hearts of all and gave courage to the timid and 
faltering deputies. 

Breze, Marquis de Dreux, Master of Ceremonies, 
he whom we have met before, was sent to the hall to 

" Go. tell, your master 
wild tbe people. 

Drawn by John R. Neill 


remind the deputies of the king's command. :< You 
have heard," he said, addressing the president, " the 
orders of the king," to which Bailly replied : " I 
am going to take those of the Assembly, which can 
adjourn only by its own act." Breze then wanted 
to know if that was the answer he was to carry 
back. Bailly, turning to those deputies who were 
near him, remarked : " I think that the nation when 
assembled can receive no orders." Here was the 
opportunity for Mirabeau. In his dramatic man- 
ner, addressing himself directly to the royal mes- 
senger, he exclaimed : " We have heard the inten- 
tions suggested to the king ; and you, who can never 
be his organ to the National Assembly, you who 
have neither place, voice nor right to speak, you 
are not the man to remind us of his discourse. Go 
tell those who sent you that we are here by the 
will of the people and nothing but the power of the 
bayonet shall drive us hence." " Only great men 
pronounce the decisive words of the epochs." 

Breze then withdrew, backing himself out of the 
hall with all the ceremony that could distinguish 
the manner and conduct of a finished courtier of 
France. It was, no doubt, the first time in his life 
that he had ever paid such respect and homage to 
the Third Estate. 

Immediately upon the withdrawal of the king's 
messenger, Sieyes quietly remarked: " We are to- 
day what we were yesterday, let us deliberate." 

Upon motion of Mirabeau, the Assembly decreed 
the inviolability of every deputy and declared that 
any one who should offer them violence would be 
guilty of treason. 



It is said that Louis had familiarized himself 
with the events that had marked the career of 
Charles I., and in the feeble light of his intellect he 
thought he saw and understood the causes and rea- 
sons that had led to the deposition and the execu- 
tion of England's king. He sought to avoid the 
mistakes of that monarch by evincing a yielding 
and a conciliatory, rather than a stubborn and a 
haughty, disposition. If Louis had possessed some 
of the stubbornness of Charles, and Charles had 
possessed some of the yielding spirit of Louis, the 
crowns of both might have been saved. 

" We may reason ad infinitum," says Dumont, 
" upon the causes of the Revolution, but in my 
mind there is only one dominant and efficient cause, 
the weakness of the king's character. Had a 
firm and decided prince been in the place of Louis 
XVI., the Revolution would not have happened." 
When he says " the Revolution would not have 
happened" he means such a revolution. He further 
declares : " There is not a single period during the 
existence of the first Assembly when the king could 
not have re-established his authority and framed a 
mixed constitution much stronger and more solid 
than the old parliamentary and nobiliary monarchy 
of France. His weakness, his indecision, his half 
measures and half councils, and more particularly 
his want of foresight, led to the catastrophe." 

The language of Mirabeau to the king's messen- 
ger: "Go tell your master that we will not dis- 
perse, that we are here by the will of the people, 
and that only bayonets can drive us hence," was 
a bold and defiant answer to the king's command. 


Such language had never before been addressed to 
the monarch. Heretofore, it had always been sup- 
plicatory in character. This was in no humble 
vein. It was a defiance to his authority, no longer 
an appeal to his clemency. 

There was one of two things at this juncture for 
the king to do; either to apply the bayonet, or to 
surrender. He quickly did the latter. 

The nobility, baffled and beaten, their ranks 
broken, their leaders disconcerted and divided in 
council, endeavored, as a last resort, to make the 
king believe that his only safety lay in the force of 
his army. In this particular they were right, for it 
was the only remedy left unless they should repair 
their mistakes by uniting with the Assembly, and 
perhaps it was not too late, if they had acted with 
candor, sincerity, and prudence, to recover the lost 

Mirabeau was now the undisputed leader of the 
Assembly, and the idol of the people. The very 
mention of his name set the enthusiasm of the 
Palais Royal aglow. 

" He talks much," said his envious brother dur- 
ing the early sessions of the Assembly, " but is not 
heard." But now his words rang throughout 
France, yea, throughout all Europe. There was 
much truth in his brother's statement, for he had 
spoken from the tribune incessantly and often 
without avail. He suffered a scathing defeat on 
the resolution of June 17, when Sieyes carried the 
convention against his motion. He, too, had fallen 
under the popular censure because of his advocacy 
of the king's veto. He often had been hissed and 


was even suspected of negotiating with the court 
party; but now all this was changed, his timely 
boldness had retrieved his losses and entrenched 
him in popular confidence and favor. At one leap 
he became the foremost man of the nation. 

Four days after the king had commanded the or- 
ders to separate, he invited them to meet in joint 
convention. " We are now one family," said the 
exultant and hopeful Bailly. But alas! for king 
and state, the harmony was only apparent, not real. 
Before the rejoicings of the people were over, the 
court party began to plot and counter-plot, and 
they persuaded Louis, after appealing to his fears, 
to change once more his policy of conciliation. He 
was now to resort to force and by means of his 
army bring the people to a realizing sense of what 
they owed their king. Troops began to arrive in 
great numbers at Versailles, and their presence dis- 
turbed the repose of the Assembly and aroused the 
fears of the people. So sudden and vast were the 
preparations that the purpose of the court was 
easily understood. At Mirabeau's suggestion, on 
the Qth of July, a firm, but respectful address was 
presented to the king, requesting the dismissal of 
the troops, but Louis replied that he alone was the 
judge of the necessity of assembling or dismissing 
troops. He at the same time, however, assured the 
Assembly that his only purpose was to prevent pub- 
lic disturbances and to protect the deputies. 





NECKER was dismissed on July I ith. The queen 
even suggested his arrest. This would have been 
better than the course that was adopted, for it, at 
least, would have kept Necker in the country. 

While the minister was at dinner, a messenger 
brought him word that he must quit France and 
without delay. Necker quietly informed his wife, 
and together they made preparations to depart 
immediately. In a few hours they were on their 
way to Brussels, long before the news of the ban- 
ishment reached Paris. 

A ministry was formed with Breteuil at its head, 
a blustering braggart, who by his boastfulness had 
impressed the queen with his assumed importance. 
" His big, manly voice sounded like energy ; he 
used to step heavily and stamp with his foot, as if 
he would conjure an army out of the earth." Gen- 
eral de Broglie, an aristocrat of the deepest dye, 
and a general of the old order, was in the saddle 
directing the movements of the troops and using all 
the foreign regiments to protect Versailles and to 
threaten Paris. Foulon had also been named a 
minister, and the king could not have chosen one 


so distasteful to the people. The mere mention of 
his name aroused the greatest indignation, for it 
was he that had said, " If the people are hungry, 
let them eat hay, my horses eat it." He was 
credited with having recently declared that 
" France needs to be mowed." 

The court had lost its head, it was plunging to 
destruction. So far as the king was concerned, his 
conduct was a clear breach of faith. There was no 
excuse for his treachery ; but Louis never had any 
real honor, he was too weak to be honest. If he 
had asserted his authority when the commons defied 
his order to separate, there might have been ad- 
vanced some reason for his action ; but he allowed 
that opportunity to pass, and after inviting the 
orders to meet, and giving assurances to the coun- 
try of his desire to aid in effecting the needed re- 
forms, he immediately began to plot to reduce the 
Assembly to submission. 

It was not until noon of Sunday, July 12, that 
the news in relation to the changed policy of the 
court reached Paris. The Palais Royal was 
crowded when the messenger arrived from Ver- 
sailles. At first he was howled down and charged 
with circulating a baseless rumor, but when his 
earnestness convinced the people of his truthfulness 
and when further confirmation of his report was 
given, the crowd was thrown into the wildest ex- 
citement. In the midst of this confusion a young 
man suddenly leaped upon a table and commanded 
attention. The crowd grew silent and listened. 
' The dismissal of Necker," shouted the orator, 
" is the signal of massacre ; it is the knell of a St. 


Bartholomew of patriots. The Swiss and German 
troops encamped in the Field of Mars will march 
upon us to-night to butcher us. We must arm our- 
selves. Let us hoist a cockade ! We must have a 
rallying sign, a badge, what shall it be ? Red, the 
color of the free order of the Cincinnati, or green, 
the color of hope?" " Green," shouted the crowd, 
and snatching a leaf from the tree overhead, the 
speaker fastened it to his coat. In an instant every 
one followed his example, and the trees were 
stripped of their foliage, as if smitten by a storm 
of hail. 

The orator, still commanding attention, drew 
from his pocket two pistols, and brandishing them 
over his head, cried out, " I call my brethren to lib- 
erty. To arms! to arms!" The crowd, by this 
time maddened with excitement under the whirring 
words of the speaker, took up the refrain until it 
rang throughout the garden and aroused all Paris. 
' To arms ! To arms !" was the cry. It was a 
public declaration of civil war. There was to be no 
further parleying. 

Who was this young orator that so thrilled the 
crowd this Patrick Henry of the Revolution? 
Camille Desmoulins was twenty-nine years of age 
when the States General met. At that time he was 
wandering about Paris as a briefless barrister re- 
duced to the extremes of poverty. He had enjoyed 
the advantages of a liberal education and chose the 
bar as his profession, which, soon after the Revolu- 
tion began, he abandoned for a literary career. He 
was light and frivolous and easily controlled by his 
emotions. He was witty, sarcastic, and had a most 


caustic pen, which he never hesitated to use in any 
cause he espoused. During certain periods of the 
Revolution he wielded a considerable influence. At 
times he was eloquent, notwithstanding a slight im- 
pediment in his speech. " His lively sallies," writes 
Michelet, u playing about his embarrassed lips, es- 
caped like darts." 

He followed, with zeal, the movements of the 
Revolution and took an active part in its ex- 
cesses. The crimes to which he gave his approval 
and support were, in his opinion, necessary for the 
safety of the republic. Although of a tender, an 
affectionate disposition, he often turned a deaf ear 
to the appeals of mercy and justice. He was con- 
trolled by that rabid radical party spirit that blinds 
the reason and silences the conscience of men. 

Having been employed by Robespierre to assail 
the Girondins, he wrote a pamphlet that aroused a 
strong public sentiment against them and caused 
their arrest and condemnation. He was foolish 
enough to satisfy his curiosity by witnessing their 
execution. The horror of the injustice was too 
much for his emotional nature ; it aroused remorse 
in his heart and he fled from the dreadful scene, 
crying aloud in his agony, " O, my God ! it is I 
that killed them ! Let me pass, I will not see them 

After this sad and harrowing experience, he be- 
came more moderate in his views and consequently 
aroused the suspicions of his colleagues. 

He incurred the mortal enmity of St. Just by 
saying that " one may see by his gait and in his 
deportment that he looks upon his head as the cor- 


ner-stone of the republic, and that he carries it with 
reverence upon his shoulders like the Holy Sacra- 
ment." " I will make him carry his in his hand 
like Saint Denis," snarled St. Just. It was a dan- 
gerous game to joke at the expense of your adver- 
saries, if they were in power, in those days of the 
Red Terror. 

He was expelled from the Jacobins, brought be- 
fore the revolutionary tribunal, and condemned to 
death. When asked his age, he answered, " I am 
thirty-three, the age of the sans-culotte Jesus, a 
critical age for every patriot." 

After his arrest, his courage failed him. He had 
to be dragged by force from before the tribunal. 
When thrust into the cart to be carried to his exe- 
cution, he fought like a madman, struggling with 
the attendants until his shirt was torn from his 
shoulders. Frantic with rage and fear, he wildly 
called upon the people to save him. " Do you not 
remember me ? I am Camille ! I sounded the toc- 
sin of the Revolution ! Do you not know me ? Five 
years ago in the Palais Royal I called the people 
to liberty." His appeals only provoked shouts of 
derision. He was showing the white feather, ^nd 
the crowd had no sympathy in those days of terror 
for the coward. Danton, the mighty Danton, sat 
beside him in the tumbril, undismayed. He joked 
and smiled on his way to death. " Many a revel I 
have had in my day," he said, " now we will go to 
sleep." Bitter tears welled up from his heart, but 
he laughed them down. Courage, Danton! Cour- 
age! All Paris is watching you! All the world 
will mock you if you show the coward ! You will 


yet have your revenge, for your blood will rise in 
the throat of Robespierre and choke his utterance. 

Danton neither wailed nor begged for mercy ; 
he met his fate and went to his doom like a hero, 
while Camille, in sad contrast, wild with fear and 
rage, alternately blubbered like a baby and fumed 
and raved like a maniac. 

Camille Desmoulins, excitable, emotional, pas- 
sionate, was, however, just the kind of orator to 
arouse the people, and he made his debut in the gar- 
dens of the Palais Royal at a time and under cir- 
cumstances that made him, at once, the popular 
idol as well as the leader of the mob. 

Forming in procession, the crowd marched 
through Paris, shrieking, " To arms ! To arms !" 
Even the French guards fraternized with the peo- 
ple and joined in the cry, " Long live the nation !" 
" We will defend the king," they declared, " but 
we will not cut the throats of our fellow-citizens." 

The mob, having secured the busts of Necker 
and the Duke of Orleans from the studio of a stat- 
uary named Curtius, paraded through the streets 
singing their war-cries. Some Swiss and German 
troops, under the command of the Prince de Lam- 
besc, ran down the crowd and put it to rout, but it 
only re-formed in greater numbers and with in- 
creased courage and defiance. 

A squad of German cavalry dashed through the 
gardens of the Tuileries, which were thronged 
with citizens quietly enjoying their Sunday even- 
ing promenade. Men, women, and children fled 
for safety in every direction. One old man was 
knocked down and seriously wounded. Of course, 


in the excitement stories were greatly exaggerated, 
and the city was filled with rumors that increased 
the bitterness and the anger of the people. Mutiny 
added to the general disorder. A conflict took 
place between a detachment of the French Guards 
and a squad of Lambesc's German troops. The 
latter were scattered after the first volley. 

The day closed and darkness fell upon the city. 
It was a night of terror and dismay. Respectable 
citizens early sought their homes, blinds were 
drawn and doors were barred. The palaces of the 
great were sacked. Bands of desperate men 
prowled through the aristocratic quarters applying 
the torch, and soon the sky was reddened by the 
glare from the burning buildings. Robber ruf- 
fians, taking advantage of the general confusion, 
perpetrated all kinds of excesses. Rapine, arson, 
and murder held high carnival. The municipal au- 
thorities were powerless to preserve order. Morn- 
ing at last dawned. The lawless ceased their dep- 
redations and, like wolves, sneaked out of sight to 
their caves and tenements, impatiently awaiting the 
return of darkness. 

Daylight brought temporary relief. 

When the news reached Versailles of the disturb- 
ances in Paris, the court became indignant and 
threatening in its attitude, and the Assembly anx- 
ious. But when the deputies recovered from their 
astonishment, they were none the less determined 
than they had been. They petitioned the king to 
recall the dismissed ministers and to abandon the 
employment of troops. 

" Let us make the constitution," cried the Count 


de Virieu, " let us renew, confirm, and consecrate 
the glorious decrees of the I7th of June, let us 
unite ourselves in sentiment and swear to be faith- 
ful to the vows we have taken." The Duke de 
Rochefoucauld emphatically declared, " The consti- 
tution shall be made, or we shall cease to be." In 
the presence of impending dangers, the deputies 
evinced a spirit of determination that encouraged 
the whole nation. They faced the future with he- 
roic resolve. " All recollection of their divisions 
was effaced, all their efforts were united for the 
salvation of the country." 

A deputation that waited on the king respect- 
fully requested the recall of Necker, the dismissal 
of the troops, and the establishment of a militia of 
citizens, but the king, still under the influence and 
control of the queen's party, gave no satisfactory 
answer, and the committee returned empty-handed. 

The deputies of the Assembly, fearing that if 
they adjourned, the hall might, in their absence, be 
seized by the royal troops, resolved to hold a con- 
tinuous session. By lot, it was decided which dep- 
uties should sit during the day and which by night. 
To relieve the president, the Archbishop of Vienne, 
whose years were many and whose health was 
feeble, it was agreed that a vice-president should 
be selected, and to this position La Fayette was 
chosen to preside over the night sessions. 

The deputies calmly occupied their seats, pre- 
served a serene demeanor, conducted the proceed- 
ings with regularity, and by their inflexible con- 
duct gained the approbation of the people and even 
the respect of the court. Their courage instilled a 


wholesome fear into the minds of the queen's blus- 
tering ministers, one of whom had made the idle 
boast that he would bridle the Assembly and subdue 
Paris in three days. At no period of the Revolu- 
tion did the Assembly display greater fortitude and 
wisdom and maintain so high a degree of dignity. 

On Monday, the I3th, Paris was awake at an 
early hour after a night of anxiety and terror. 
About six o'clock the bells began ringing from 
all the steeples, sounding an alarm, for Paris ex- 
pected an attack from the royal troops. Citizens 
poured out of their houses, gathered in crowds, lis- 
tened to inflammatory orators, and then scattered 
in every direction to find arms and ammunition. 

Tramps and beggars came from the surrounding 
country, crowding through the gates and barriers 
of the city, eager to take part in the pillage. Jails 
were broken open, unfortunate debtors released, but 
criminals found no sympathy with the crowd and 
were returned to their cells. In one instance, when 
the prisoners had overpowered the guards and were 
battering down the doors of the dungeon, the pa- 
triots having been appealed to for help, turned their 
guns upon the rogues and quickly quelled the mu- 
tiny. " The mob itself," says Mignet, " disarmed 
suspected characters." 

The monastery of St. Lazare, which contained a 
great quantity of grain, was sacked by the mobs, 
and crowds of famished wretches gorged them- 
selves with food and wine which they had found in 
the pantry and cellars. The grain, however, about 
fifty wagon loads, was hauled away to be sold for 
the benefit of the poor. 



"It would be difficult," writes Bertrand de 
Molleville, " to paint the disorder, fermentation, 
and alarm that prevailed in the capital during this 
dreadful day. Imagine detachments of cavalry and 
dragoons making their way through different parts 
of the town at full gallop, to the posts assigned 
them; trains of artillery rolling over the pave- 
ment with monstrous noise ; bands of ill-armed ruf- 
fians and women drunk with brandy, running 
through the streets like furies, breaking the shops 
open and spreading terror everywhere by their 
howlings, mingled with frequent reports from guns 
or pistols fired in the air; all the barriers on fire; 
thousands of smugglers taking advantage of the 
tumult, to hurry in their goods; the alarm bells 
ringing in almost all the churches ; a great part of 
the citizens shutting themselves up at home, loading 
their guns and burying their money, papers, and 
valuable effects in cellars and gardens ; and during 
the night the town paraded by numerous patrols of 
citizens of every class and of both sexes, for many 
women were seen with muskets or pikes on their 

In the midst of this excitement, the patriots were 
at work organizing the Parisian Guard. All citi- 
zens were notified to enroll their names. Every 
district had its battalion, every battalion had its 
leader, and the supreme command of this body of 
citizen soldiery was offered to the Duke d'Aumont. 
He requested to be given twenty-four hours for 
consideration, but finally declining the honor, the 
Marquis de la Fayette was unanimously chosen. 

Evening approached, and as the darkness in- 


creased, the tumult of the city gradually subsided 
to a low murmur like unto the growl of a tired but 
angry beast. 

The terrifying scenes of the previous night were 
not to be repeated, for the streets were patrolled by 
sentinels, and in every direction torches, enveloped 
in gloom, shed a lurid light, bright enough, how- 
ever, to reveal the presence of sneaking marauders, 
and to prevent their depredations. Paris was awake 
and feverish and through that long summer night 
was waiting anxiously and impatiently for the com- 
ing dawn. It came at last, and the day was ushered 
in by the ringing of alarm bells from every church- 
tower and steeple. 

There was a feeling of relief when it was known 
that the army of the great Broglie had not yet ap- 
peared at the gates of the city. The watchers 
through the night had been listening to hear the 
beat of the drums and the steady tramp of the ap- 
proaching armies of the king. Shops were closed, 
business was suspended and multitudes of people 
thronged the streets ready for any enterprise. 

The cry " to arms" was still ringing in the air. 
The people had appealed to Flesselles, the Mayor of 
the old municipality, the Provost of the Merchants, 
to aid them in their search for arms, but he was 
loyal to the king and started the people on false 
trails. For this deception he ultimately paid for- 
feit with his head. He had delayed the people by 
excuses, he had deceived them by promises, hoping 
that time would soothe their fury, but at last, in 
the very presence of the king's troops, stationed in 
the Champ de Mars, the mob broke into the Hotel 


des Invalides, and in spite of the earnest entreaties 
of the governor, secured and carried away twenty- 
eight thousand guns, a number of pieces of artil- 
lery, and great quantities of swords, sabres, and 
halberds. The people, having succeeded in pro- 
curing arms, next desired a place or something to 
attack. On the I3th, the day before, there had 
frequently been heard the cry: " To the Bastile!" 

De Launay, a brave old soldier, who had served 
his king with honor, having been warned by the 
cries of the mob, made every preparation to repel 
an attack, and put his fortress in a complete state 
of defence. At midnight, just as the bells from the 
steeples were tolling the hour, De Launay climbed 
the staircase leading to the tower, and looked down 
upon the fretful city. Finding no cause for alarm, 
he bade the sentinels on guard " good night," and 
descended to his quarters to take his last sleep on 
earth, never dreaming of danger, for he knew his 
castle could withstand the siege and the assaults 
of armies. 

In a few hours De Launay, the sentinels, and the 
gloomy fortress will be only memories. 

Had the old soldier gone to the tower in the early 
part of the afternoon of the i4th he would have 
seen all Paris, as if actuated by one impulse, rush- 
ing to the Bastile. He would have witnessed a 
scene that would have appalled his heart, stout as 
it was. 

Behold that black mass rolling out of Saint An- 
toine like a mighty ocean, its waves already lap- 
ping the foundation stones of that impregnable 
fortress! And not only from Saint Antoine, but 


out of every district, from every quarter the tide 
surges on, gathering force and volume as it moves, 
its multitudinous voices shrieking in desperate re- 
solve to level to the ground this " old cavern of 
kings!" But the sea beats against the rock and, 
for a time, is stayed. 

The governor declined to surrender. This de- 
cision, under the circumstances, was clearly in the 
line of his duty, but having made up his mind to 
defend the castle committed to his care he should 
have fought to the death. He, unquestionably, 
could have held out until reinforcements came, for 
he had ammunition and stores sufficient to with- 
stand a lengthy siege. He was, however, fighting 
not an army, not a public enemy, but his fellow- 
citizens, and that created a doubt in his mind as to 
what course of action he should pursue. The old 
soldier wavered, he parleyed when he should have 
fought. The defence was only half-hearted ; when 
sorely pressed, he opened fire but once, just enough 
to enrage the mob without repulsing it. Angered 
at the sight of blood, it returned to the attack, 
scaled the outer wall, battered down the draw- 
bridges and entered into the inner court-yard. De 
Launay, with lighted torch, ran to the magazine to 
blow up the fortress, but his soldiers seized him 
and prevented this catastrophe. It would have 
been better for all of them if he had succeeded in his 
purpose. The mob kept pushing on ; the white flag 
was hoisted, but before surrender an agreement was 
made with the leaders that the governor and garri- 
son should not be molested, but alas! this agree- 
ment was broken almost before the words were 


spoken. Unfortunately, the Swiss opened fire after 
the flag of truce was hoisted, and the crowd, fren- 
zied with rage, gave no quarter. 

" The Bastile has fallen !" was the glorious news 
that greeted the ear of humanity the world over. 
" Bastile and tyranny," says Michelet, " were in 
every language synonymous terms. Every nation, 
at the news of its destruction, believed it had recov- 
ered its liberty." 

" In Russia, that empire of mystery and silence, 
that monster Bastile between Europe and Asia, 
scarcely had the news arrived, when you might have 
seen men of every nation shouting and weeping for 
joy in the open streets." The fact that this excess 
of joy occurred in St. Petersburg is vouched for by 
a witness above suspicion, the Count de Segur, who 
at that time was ambassador to the Court of the 
Czar, and who, being a royalist, in no wise shared 
in the general enthusiasm. " No other event," says 
Willert, " was ever hailed with a tithe of the en- 
thusiasm which the fall of the Bastile excited, from 
the banks of the Neva to those of the Mississippi." 
That prison, whose fetid dungeons had confined 
such wretchedness and despair, " so many broken 
hearts, so many tears of rage and heads dashed 
against the stones," had at last fallen under the as- 
saults of the people whose liberty and lives it had 
ever menaced. No longer would its " dark, deep 
dungeons, where the prisoners, on a level with the 
common sewers, lived besieged and menaced by 
rats, toads, and every kind of foul vermin," hold 
and hide the secrets and mysteries of tyranny. 

There is force, tremendous force, in the shout 


of an incensed and infuriated mob. It struck ter- 
ror into the hearts of the governor and the garri- 
son, so that the gloomy dungeon was shaken to its 
base. The Grecian hosts upon one occasion, so his- 
tory states, set up such a shout that the birds fell 
dead out of the heavens. 

Who would have thought that this mighty fort- 
ress, bristling with cannon, rock-ribbed from turret 
to foundation stone, fortified, garrisoned, supplied 
with stores and ammunition sufficient to have with- 
stood the siege and assault of an army, would have 
fallen so quickly before the shout of the multitude. 
It was not besieged by an army of disciplined sol- 
diers, but by a mob without order, organization or 
leadership. " And it shall come to pass . . . that 
the people shall shout with a great shout and the 
walls of the city shall fall down flat." As before 
the walls of Jericho, so it was before the walls of 
the Bastile. 

While these events were transpiring in Paris, 
what was going on at Versailles ? Couriers had not 
yet brought to the court the news from the capital. 
The ministers were making out a list of deputies 
who were to be proscribed. Some were to be seized 
and tried as traitors to their king; others were to 
be banished, and, in fine, the Assembly was to be 
coerced, and if it refused to yield, was to be scat- 
tered to the four corners of the earth. 

In the orangerie the royal troops are drink- 
ing, carousing, singing roundelays, and dancing to 
their own wild music. The queen must needs en- 
courage her loyal troops, and so with her friend, 
Madame de Polignac, she pays them a visit. Her 
18 273 


presence arouses their loyalty and enthusiasm, and 
they toast their queen with wine poured into their 
goblets by her own fair hands. She conducts the 
officers to her apartments and excites them with 
liquor till they vow to lay down their lives in her 
defence and her honor. 

The king has gone to bed. 

Suddenly a body of cavalry with the Prince de 
Lambesc at their head, fleeing before the fury of 
the people, dash into the town, having galloped in 
hot haste all the way from Paris. Some couriers 
arrive bringing the details of the day's occurrences. 
The bluster and brag of Breteuil and Broglie sud- 
denly subside. The queen's party is thrown into a 

The king was asleep, sound asleep, when the 
news came announcing the fall of the Bastile. The 
Duke de Liancourt, who had the entree to the 
king's apartments at all hours, day or night, awoke 
Louis out of his heavy slumber and detailed to him 
the thrilling events of that momentous day. Louis, 
rubbing his eyes, exclaimed, " It is a revolt." " No, 
Sire," said Liancourt, "it is not a revolt; it is a 
revolution." The duke, who loved the king, gave 
him some wholesome advice and then left him to 
slumber until daylight. 

When the news reached the Assembly, it was 
proposed to send another deputation to the king. 
" No," said Clermont Tonnerre, " leave him the 
night to consult in, kings must buy experience as 
well as other men." 

The Assembly, on the I5th, appointed a deputa- 
tion to wait again on the king, and as the twenty - 


four deputies were about to depart on their errand, 
Mirabeau in his most dramatic and impassioned 
manner exclaimed: "Tell him that the hordes of 
strangers who invest us received yesterday visits, 
caresses, exhortations, and presents from the 
princes, princesses, and favorites; tell him that, 
during the night, these foreign satellites, gorged 
with gold and wine, predicted in their impious 
songs the subjection of France and invoked the 
destruction of the National Assembly ; tell him that 
in his own palace courtiers danced to the sound of 
that barbarous music, and that such was the pre- 
lude to the massacre of St. Bartholomew ! Tell him 
that the Henry whose memory is known through- 
out the universe, him whom of all his ancestors he 
said he would make his model, sent provisions into 
rebellious Paris when besieging it in person, while 
the savage advisers of Louis send away the corn 
which trade brings into his loyal and starving 

Just at that moment, Louis, attended only by his 
brothers, entered the outer hall of the Assembly. 
The news of his coming was received by the de- 
lighted deputies with every evidence of joy. " Let 
not your applause be premature," said Mirabeau to 
his enthusiastic colleagues. " Let us wait till his 
Majesty makes known the good intentions we are 
led to expect from him. The blood of our brethren 
flows in Paris. Let a sad respect be the first recep- 
tion given to the king by the representatives of an 
unfortunate people. The silence of the people is 
the lesson of kings." 

The deputies received his Majesty respectfully 



but without demonstration. In a few moments, 
however, he gained the confidence and won the ap- 
plause of the Assembly, when he declared that he 
was one with the nation, and that he had ordered 
the troops to leave Paris and Versailles; that he 
would recall Necker, and that on the morrow he 
would visit his capital. 

A committee of one hundred members was at 
once appointed to precede the king to Paris and an- 
nounce his coming. The king set out on the 1 7th ; 
he reached the city about three o'clock in the after- 
noon. He was met at the gates by Bailly, who had 
been chosen Mayor. " Sire," said Bailly, " I bring 
your Majesty the keys of your good town of Paris ; 
they are the same that were presented to Henry 
IV. ; he had reconquered his people ; now the peo- 
ple have reconquered their king." 

He was received at first in a sullen mood, but 
when he entered the Hotel de Ville, unattended by 
his guard and submitted to being decorated with 
the cockade of the Revolution, the enthusiasm of 
the people knew no bounds. The king uncondi- 
tionally surrendered to the rebels. 

Louis was weak in character, but he was not a 
timid man. It required great courage to enter the 
capital at this time, in view of public sentiment and 
the temper of the populace. He took his life in his 
hands. It seems strange that a man who could, on 
occasion, display such courage, had so little decision 
of character. 

Louis, glad to escape from the affectionate atten- 
tion of his loyal subjects, some of whom stopped 
his horses and drank his health out of bottles, one 


jolly fat fish-woman going so far as to hug his Maj- 
esty, journeyed back to Versailles and reached the 
palace about nine o'clock in the evening, a sadder 
but not a wiser man. 

The queen, who had never expected to see him 
return alive, welcomed him with every manifesta- 
tion of joy, but when she saw the tri-color pinned to 
his coat, which Louis had forgotten to remove, she 
exclaimed in bitterness and with scorn in every 
word she uttered : " I did not know until this 
moment I had married a plebeian." Oh! proud 
queen, if the veil of the future had been lifted, 
you would have seen that the time was coming 
when your Louis, in his own palace, surrounded 
by a jeering and an insolent rabble, would wear 
for hours a sweaty, dirty red cap of a smutty 

The fall of the Bastile and the revolt of Paris 
shattered the hopes of the royalists. The violent 
measures agreed upon by the court party, that had 
already given enthusiastic courage to the queen, 
were immediately abandoned. 

On the day Louis returned from Paris, the first 
exodus of the nobles took place, Madame de Po- 
lignac, the dear and devoted friend of the queen; 
the Count of Artois, the brother of the king ; Bre- 
teuil, he of the heavy voice and step ; Broglie, the 
blusterer who threatened to burn Paris; Lambesc, 
the roysterer who charged through the gardens of 
the Tuileries on that memorable Sunday evening, 
the twelfth, all fled ignominiously across the bor- 
der to find a sanctuary in Turin, leaving Louis and 
Marie Antoinette to bear the burden alone. 


" Hollow men, like horses hot at hand, 
Make gallant show and promise of their mettle; 
But when they should endure the bloody spur, 
They fall their crests, and like deceitful jades, 
Sink in the trial." 

" Noblesse oblige" was a motto that they mocked 
in their mad desire to escape from danger. Their 
dastardly conduct was, perhaps, the origin of the 
phrase, " taking French leave." 

At the first sign of danger, at a time when the 
king and the queen specially needed their advice, 
sympathy, and assistance, these faithful (?) friends 
deserted them like a pack of poltroons. " Sauve 
qui pent" was the cry at Waterloo, but not until the 
Emperor's fortunes were lost; even then, the old 
guard refused to surrender. 

The desertion was so cowardly that it disgusted 
even Talleyrand. He pleaded with the Count of 
Artois to reconsider his determination, and not to 
abandon the king at this critical moment ; but it was 
of no avail. The noble count feared the loss of his 
head more than the loss of his honor. It must have 
been an edifying spectacle to see Talleyrand pleading 1 
with a craven in so just a cause. It was seldom the 
adroit and cunning churchman ever displayed any 
trait or spirit beyond that of a mere intriguing, de- 
ceiving schemer. 

Talleyrand, Bishop of Autun, elevated to that 
exalted station by Louis XVI., was one of the most 
selfish and perfidious creatures that ever basked in 
the sunshine of royal favor. He never espoused a 
cause he did not desert or betray. No moral con- 
sideration was ever weighed by him, when it stood 

From an engraving in the collection of William J. Latta, Esq. 


between him and his interest. He brought intrigue 
and deception to an art, to a science. He had 
the instincts of a spy and the principles of a traitor. 
Feared by those who trusted him, he yet became the 
custodian of their secrets ; despised by his masters, 
he nevertheless enjoyed their favors. His chosen 
rule of conduct was " Treat your friends as if they 
would one day be your enemies, and your enemies 
as if they would one day be your friends." In his 
code, friendship, loyalty, and patriotism were mere 
terms to conjure with, but not sentiments to live by. 
His manner was polished, he was at all times 
charming and fascinating. Napoleon described 
him as " a silk stocking filled with excrement." 
Mirabeau at one time regretted that he was obliged 
to keep on terms with " a being so vile as Talley- 
rand, sordid, greedy, and designing, who delighted 
only in filth and gold, who had sold his honor and 
his friend, and who would sell his soul if a pur- 
chaser could be found for trash so vile." 

Immediately after the departure of the noble 
emigrants, Talleyrand lost no time in going over 
to the revolutionists, declaring that " everyone 
must now look out for himself." He had no com- 
punction nor special regret in abandoning the king 
and the queen, for he always believed that Marie 
Antoinette had stood between him and a cardinal's 
hat. If this be true, then she rendered a notable 
service to the church. 








NECKER'S return was a triumph. This was the 
heyday of his glory, but he immediately weakened 
his influence and popularity by demanding of the 
electors of Paris a general amnesty. This was at 
a time wnen the mob had assassinated Foulon, and 
carried his head on a pike, with a wisp of hay in its 
mouth, through the streets of Paris the cruel, 
cold-hearted Foulon who said in the days of fam- 
ine that gi ass was food good enough for the starv- 
ing poor. One is almost induced to call his mur- 
der a just retribution. 

Necker, no doubt, was actuated by humane and 
charitable motives, but his conduct was imprudent 
and impolitic. At a time when the public mind 
was inflamed against all those that had taken part 
in opposition to the people, in the events of the 
fourteenth of July, he further irritated the public 
temper by requesting clemency for the enemies of 
the people. Mirabeau assailed Necker, denounced 
the action of the town council and induced the As- 
sembly to annul the order, contending that it was 
a question alone for the Assembly's consideration, 


and that the municipal authorities had no jurisdic- 
tion in the matter. 

Instead of demanding an amnesty, Necker 
should have favored a fair trial for the accused. 
His request simply turned public sentiment against 
him and he fell into disfavor at once. " Necker did 
not know the people ; he was not aware how easily 
they suspect their chiefs and destroy their idols." 
He heeded not the wise saying of Mirabeau that 
" It is but a short distance from the Capitol to the 
Tarpeian Rock." 

" What ruined Louis XVL," says Froment, 
" was his having philosophers for ministers." 
Necker was endowed neither with political sense 
nor worldly sagacity. His great popularity in- 
duced him to believe he was a leader, but he really 
did not possess the first quality of political leader- 
ship. His popularity was due to the opposition of 
the court, and his vanity led him to believe that it 
was due to his great talents. 

After the fall of the Bastile, Mirabeau in his 
journal apologized for 'the popular excesses: 
" How great," he said, " must be the virtue and 
moderation of the people, since even when the dun- 
geons of the Bastile disclosed the secret atrocities of 
despotism, they were not provoked to greater blood- 
shed ! The oppressors of the people denounce it 
and affect to fear it, in order that they may excuse 
their tyranny and deaden their consciences ! If these 
events had taken place at Constantinople, we 
should say that this was an act of popular justice ; 
that the punishment of one vizier would be a lesson 
to others." Mirabeau argued against the facts and 


his honest convictions. He encouraged anarchy in 
his attempt to excuse the massacre of the garrison. 

The attack by the people on the Bastile was en- 
tirely justified by existing conditions. The king 
and the nobles were preparing to control the Assem- 
bly by force, to intimidate its members by the pres- 
ence of the military. It was the legislative body of 
the kingdom, and had been so recognized by the 
king himself. It had committed no overt act ; it had 
insisted upon exercising those rights and powers 
that were lawfully delegated to it. Paris was men- 
aced and threatened by the army for no other rea- 
son than that it loyally supported the Assembly and 
favored needed reforms. The people had a right 
to arm in defence of their city, and to strengthen 
their defence it was necessary to destroy or secure 
possession of the fortress that was the stronghold of 
the enemy and a menace to the public liberty. 

On the other hand, the murder of De Launay 
and the garrison was absolutely without excuse. It 
was cruel and cowardly and without any justifica- 
tion whatever. They had surrendered and were 
unarmed. Their only offence was that they had de- 
fended property placed in their charge by the exist- 
ing government. They were assigned to its de- 
fence and it was their duty to repel attack so long 
as they wore the livery of the king or had not given 
their allegiance to the popular cause. Their assas- 
sination was the act of a lawless mob, for no longer 
were the people engaged in a commendable or 
justifiable enterprise when they turned from the 
taking of the fortress to the slaughter of defence- 
less men. The people had obtained possession of 


the Bastile and they owed protection to its de- 
fenders who had surrendered. The killing of 
these men by an infuriated mob was anarchy in 
its worst form, and was the beginning of the 
terrors that were to follow. 

When leading men and law-abiding citizens ex- 
cuse crime they simply put a premium on its repeti- 
tion. No life is safe in that community where the 
vilest man can be executed without forms of law. 
It is ever a dangerous policy to dispense with law in 
the desire to vent a momentary rage or to avenge 
summarily a public wrong, no matter how heinous 
in character. 

The tiger had tasted blood, and his appetite was 
whetted for more prey. The mob grew insolent; 
its spirit increased daily ; its ear was deaf ; its heart 
was dead to all appeals for mercy. The authori- 
ties, having excused its excesses, forfeited control 
and even influence over its conduct. In truth, the 
mob was sovereign, and made so because the au- 
thorities had temporized with its violence and 
excused its crimes. 

The Assembly had solemnly sworn to give a con- 
stitution to France and not to separate until the 
task was accomplished. It was a task that called 
for the exercise of the greatest powers of the 
intellect, and required a familiarity with the 
history of states and peoples, and an experience 
based upon a knowledge of the past. It had to 
be a constitution that would suit the tempera- 
ment of the French people and one that would 
not destroy every trace of the existing government. 


It had to preserve the forms, if not the principles, 
that had long obtained in France. " We are not 
savages," said Mirabeau, " coming naked from the 
shores of the Orinoco to form a society. We are an 
old nation and undoubtedly too old for our epoch. 
We have a pre-existing government, a pre-existing 
king, pre-existing prejudices. As far as possible 
one must adapt the things to the Revolution and 
avoid abruptness of transition." 

There were only a few radical spirits that fa- 
vored the destruction of the monarchy, and so a 
form of government had to be framed that would 
guarantee the equality of all men before the law and 
at the same time preserve intact the features of a 
monarchy. In other words, the principles of dem- 
ocracy had to be reconciled to a government at the 
head of which was a king entitled to his crown by 
the right of hereditary succession. 

Divergent interests of the monarchy, the aristoc- 
racy, and the commonalty, made the task a perplex- 
ing one. " The founding of an entire constitution," 
says Thiers, " amid the rubbish of an ancient legis- 
lation, in spite of all opposition and the wild flight 
of many minds, was a great and difficult work." 

On July 27, 1789, the committee reported to the 
Assembly the basis of a constitution. France was 
to remain a monarchy, the king was to be the depos- 
itory of executive power, his agents were to be re- 
sponsible to the people. His sanction was necessary 
to the laws. No loans could be created and taxes 
imposed without the consent of the nation. Taxes 
were to continue only from one States General to 
another. All property and personal liberty were 


sacred. In view of what the conditions had been, 
this was a great stride in the direction of popular 
government. The report of the committee was 
submitted to the Assembly and, straightway, Mou- 
nier read the celebrated paper known as " The Dec- 
laration of Rights." 

" The idea," says Dumont, " was American, and 
there was scarcely a member who did not consider 
such a declaration an indispensable preliminary. I 
well remember the long debate on the subject, which 
lasted several weeks, as a period of mortal ennui. 
There were silly disputes about words, much meta- 
physical trash, and dreadfully tedious posing. The 
Assembly had converted itself into a Sorbonne, and 
each apprentice in the art of legislation was trying 
his yet unfledged wings upon such puerilities." 

Mirabeau was appointed a member of the Com- 
mittee of Five to prepare the Declaration, and Du- 
mont, with his usual modesty, states that Mirabeau, 
Duroverai, Claviere and he began " writing, dis- 
puting, and wasting time and patience on this ridic- 
ulous subject." He terms it a " puerile fiction," 
and, with a great show of wisdom, says that " A 
declaration of rights could be made only after the 
framing of the constitution, for rights exist in vir- 
tue of laws, and therefore do not precede them." 
This is a mere quibble. The Declaration was sim- 
ply to announce what the political rights of the peo- 
ple were or ought to be. He divides words " twixt 
south and southwest side" when he sneers at the 
maxim that all men are born free and equal. He 
says this is not true. Of course not, in many 
senses, but the Declaration stated that " men are 


born equal in respect to their rights," their political 
rights. No one should gainsay this proposition. 
The Revolution had for its object the securing to 
the people, to all the people, this guarantee. 
Morally, mentally, and physically, men are not born 
equal, and no one is foolish enough to argue that 
they are. When Jefferson wrote in the American 
Declaration of Independence that " all men are cre- 
ated equal," he meant to say that they are created 
equal under the law, or, as the French Declaration 
puts it, " in respect to their rights." 

Mirabeau proposed to defer consideration on the 
Declaration until the constitution should be 
adopted; perhaps in this contention, he had been 
influenced by Dumont's reasoning, for it is a fact 
that when the matter was originally discussed he 
had strongly urged the necessity of a Declaration. 
He threw the Assembly into confusion when he pre- 
dicted that " any declaration of rights anterior to 
the constitution will prove but the almanac of a 
single year." He was blowing hot and cold, and he 
called down upon himself the censure of the very 
men who had favored his selection as a member of 
the committee. 

The Declaration of Rights, however, was pro- 
mulgated, and in some quarters was most enthusi- 
astically approved, and in others most bitterly de- 
nounced. Marat and Robespierre were among its 
most ardent supporters, and pronounced it the one 
good piece of work of the Assembly. 

In some particulars, it was vapory, of course, as 
all such papers are, but it contained much of the 
substance of truth and justice. It was a reiteration 


of the ideas of the philosophers who had been 
dreaming of a Utopia, and who had been instilling 
revolutionary principles for a century into the 
minds of the people. 

At a time when tyranny and intolerance were 
rank among the nations of Europe, the Assembly 
of the French people declared that men are born 
equal in respect to their rights ; that the people are 
sovereign; that no individual nor body of men 
may exercise any authority save that delegated by 
the people; that no person should be molested on 
account of his opinions political or religious 
provided he does not disturb the public order ; that 
all persons are privileged to write, speak, and pub- 
lish, being responsible only for the abuse of the 
privilege. France was unbourbonized. 

The next step in the Revolution was the abolition 
of privileges, which abolition took place on the 
night of the 4th of August, a night which an enemy 
of the Revolution designated, at the time, as " The 
Saint Bartholomew of property." " It was, how- 
ever," said Mignet, " only the Saint Bartholomew 
of abuses." Feudal rights, game laws, tithes, 
seignorial courts, pensions, exemptions, all were 
abolished by decree of the Assembly. In a spirit of 
patriotism, individual sacrifices were made for the 
sake of the public welfare, while provinces and 
towns surrendered their franchises and solemnly re- 
nounced their privileges. " The rich clergy gave 
nothing; the poor cures offered to renounce their 
fees. The Assembly, deeply affected, refused to ac- 
cept the sacrifice." A wave of enthusiasm swept 
through the convention that carried with it the abo- 


lition of abuses and the destruction of systems that 
for generations had burdened France and had made 
her government a by-word and a reproach. It was 
hailed as the dawning of a new era, the realiza- 
tion of the hopes of centuries. 

The generosity was occasioned by a report de- 
tailing the excesses in the provinces, the burning 
of chateaux and the robbery and murder perpe- 
trated by bands of marauding peasants or banditti. 
A liberal nobleman began the work, declaring that 
sacrifices must be made to secure safety and tran- 
quillity in the provinces and immunity from the 
depredations of a furious peasantry. 

Dumont, in referring to that extraordinary ses- 
sion which he attended and which he calls " the 
nocturnal sitting of the 4th of August," says : 
" Never was so much work done in so short a space 
of time. ... I know not how many laws were de- 
creed, the abolition of feudal rights, tithes and 
provincial privileges, three questions embracing a 
whole system of jurisprudence and politics, were, 
with ten or twelve others, disposed of in less time 
than the English Parliament would decide upon the 
first reading of any bill of consequence. The Assem- 
bly resembled a dying man who had made his will 
in a hurry, or to speak more plainly, each member 
gave away what did not belong to him and prided 
himself on his generosity at the expense of others." 
Rivarol, in referring to that memorable night, said : 
' The representatives of the nobility and the clergy 
sought, like Japanese, their honor in public suicide." 
You may describe the scene as an orgy, as Mira- 
beau did, but feudalism in France died that night. 


Although Dumont rather sneeringly refers to the 
proceedings of that memorable session, it marked, 
nevertheless, the beginning of a new era. Mira- 
beau described the enthusiasm as " madness," and 
said : " This is just the character of our French- 
men, they are three months disputing about syl- 
lables (alluding to the weary discussion on the 
Declaration of Rights), and in a single night they 
overturn the whole venerable edifice of the mon- 
archy." He left the Assembly before it was seized 
with the delirium, and took no part in the proceed- 
ings, and although he did not approve of all that 
had been done, he wrote : " I have good hope for 
the future, because the Revolution, whether we ap- 
prove it or not, is now an accomplished fact. In- 
telligent men must now see that further resistance 
is useless and disastrous." 

Sieyes, in a notable speech, violently opposed the 
abolition of tithes, but he made no impression on 
the Assembly. He concluded with a sentence that 
became famous : " They would be free, and know 
not how to be just." In conversation with Mira- 
beau, he spoke most warmly on the matter and de- 
nounced the whole proceeding. Mirabeau in reply, 
said : " My dear abbe, you have let loose the bull, 
and you now complain that he gores you." 

But the generosity had gone too far, and it was 
too late to retrace the steps. It only created in the 
public mind a desire for further concessions. Du- 
mont wisely and tersely says that " what is granted 
through fear never satisfies, and they whom you 
think your concessions will disarm, acquire ten- 
fold confidence and audacity." 
19 289 





THE Revolution had been making wonderful 
progress. Intrigue and force had both been em- 
ployed against it, but the leaders of the royal cause 
had, in every instance, been circumvented and de- 
feated. Who would have been bold enough to pre- 
dict, at the time of the first meeting of the States 
General, that in three months such results could have 
been reached, such reforms effected? 

On the 1 7th of June the three orders had disap- 
peared and the States General had merged into the 
National Assembly. The royal authority had been 
defied on the 23d of June and the king surrendered 
to the popular will. The moral influence of his 
royal power was destroyed. His absolutism was a 
thing of the past. The fall of the Bastile on the 
1 4th of July deprived the king of all physical force, 
and, surrendering first to the Assembly, he has- 
tened to Paris to make his peace with the people 
who had conquered him. 

On August 4 the abuses and burdens that had 
grown and developed for centuries into a system of 
tyranny were abolished in a few hours of enthusi- 
astic and patriotic sacrifice. 

" What do you complain of, Jacques ?" was the 


question asked the peasant in 1/89. " Of monks, 
pigeons, and taxes," was the answer. The monks 
had been deprived of their tithes, pigeons could be 
shot, and the feudal taxes and burdens had been 

The Revolution had successfully accomplished its 
purposes, and if it had stopped here, after securing 
and firmly establishing the reforms, it would have 
more than met the hopes and the expectations of the 
most ardent reformers who clamored for a change 
at the time of the first meeting of the States Gen- 
eral. These ends had been attained because of the 
weak and vacillating course of Louis, and on the 
other hand, it must be admitted that they were se- 
cured because of the determined and decisive atti- 
tude and policy of the Assembly. 

The king had insisted upon a separation of the 
orders when he could not nor dared not enforce his 
commands. The privileged orders had united with 
the commons at a time when their influence was lost. 

The court party decided to resort to force when 
the people were ready and able to resist. The king 
and the privileged orders, when they did the right 
thing, always did it at the wrong time. Even when 
they surrendered, it was not only a surrender on 
their part, but they made it an overwhelming vic- 
tory on the part of the commons. 

During this period, Mirabeau had played a lead- 
ing role. He was the boldest and most intrepid 
leader in the Assembly. Adam Duquesnoy, a dele- 
gate to the States General, in describing Mirabeau 
during the early sessions of that body, said : " The 
man is a wild beast, a madman. He has the expres- 


sions of a tiger. When he speaks it is in par- 
oxysms ; his face is distorted, his voice hisses with 
passion, moreover, he speaks ill; his French is 
detestable ; his arguments are sophistical, full of in- 
consistencies and fallacies. All men of intelligence 
believe that he wishes to bring about the dissolution 
of the estates and the fall oi the ministry because 
Necker would not pay him his price." But this 
madman was gradually impressing himself upon 
the Assembly, for the same Duquesnoy later on 
said : " Mirabeau excels all his colleagues in tal- 
ents, genius, and knowledge," and still later on, he 
declared that " Mirabeau alone has the genius, the 
talents and the strength of character to extricate us 
from the fearful chaos into which we are plunged. 
The circumstances are such that he must be minis- 
ter. Yet perhaps a short delay is necessary in order 
that the public may recognize that private immor- 
ality is no obstacle to public virtue." 

This shows a remarkable change of opinion, and, 
no doubt, Duquesnoy fairly represented the feelings 
of a large majority of the delegates. The opinion 
entertained by him of Mirabeau was that entertained 
not only by the members of the Assembly, but also 
by the people. Mirabeau had the spirit and the 
power of the born leader. The public, from the very 
beginning, had recognized his ability, but it took 
some little time to compel a just recognition upon 
the part of his colleagues. The latter did not doubt 
his talents in some directions, but they had no confi- 
dence in his honor and intentions, nor did they 
comprehend how great was his genius as a states- 
man. Mistrusted from the beginning, it required 


From an engraving in the collection of William J. Latta, Esq. 
After a painting by Delaroche 


time and opportunity to remove this mistrust and to 
reveal his real purpose as a representative of the 
liberal cause. He soon had a chance to display his 
superior talents and to prove his loyalty to the prin- 
ciples he had espoused. Bold, intrepid, and auda- 
cious, he commanded admiration even where he 
could not secure respect, and with his strong per- 
sonality he, in time, dominated the convention. 
When an emergency arose and sudden action was 
required, he was always equal to the occasion. No 
one can measure the effect produced upon the pub- 
lic mind when he told the messenger of the king 
that the representatives of the people would not 
obey his Majesty's order. He put in apt and force- 
ful phrase the decision of the Assembly, and his 
words rang through the realm like the blast of a 
trumpet. Without that defiance and disobedience 
of the royal command, the privileged orders could 
have joined the commons without humiliation, but 
this made their acquiescence a complete surrender. 

The royalists displayed no political wisdom. 
Even when the orders were united the aristocratic 
party was deficient in leadership. They had no one 
in their ranks who could, for an instant, cope with 
Mirabeau in energy, resources, or debate. In poli- 
tics and statesmanship he could outweigh a dozen 
of their strongest men. Maury, representing the 
clergy, and Cazales, the nobility, were the ablest 
and bravest defenders of the privileged orders. 

Abbe Maury, the son of a shoemaker, won his 
seat in the States General by professing liberal 
ideas, and after being returned as a deputy he op- 
posed the union of the orders and became the most 


pronounced advocate of the exemptions and priv- 
ileges of the church. He was a subtle, close de- 
bater, but no match for Mirabeau. " When he is 
right," said Mirabeau, "we argue: when he is 
wrong, I crush him." So bitter and persistent was 
he in his opposition to reform that he was detested 
by the people, and several times was close to a lamp- 
post execution. His ready wit saved him upon one 
occasion when he was threatened with death a la 
lantcrne. Turning to the mob, he said : " Well, and 
when you have put me in the place of the lamp, 
shall you see any clearer for that, do you think?" 
A general laugh followed this remark, and he was 
left unmolested. He had courage and was cool- 
headed under all circumstances, whether in danger 
or in debate, in the presence of an angry mob or in 
an excited assembly. He departed the country in 
time to save his head, espoused the cause of Na- 
poleon, and spent his last days in the dungeon of 
St. Angelo, having been imprisoned by order of the 

Cazales won his seat as a deputy after a stub- 
born fight. He was a cavalry officer and the son of 
a judge of the Parliament of Toulouse. Although 
a devoted royalist, he had some peculiar notions 
about the divinity of the king which did not suit the 
views of the nobility of the old order, and he did 
not always possess their confidence. He was, how- 
ever, an orator of a high degree, and if he had not 
been cursed by indolence and weakened by dissipa- 
tion, he would, by reason of his talents, have been 
a worthy opponent of the strongest men in the 



The court party made no effort to win the peo- 
ple. Their only purpose was to save the king, the 
monarchy, the old order. They evinced no spirit of 
concession or conciliation. There were many lib- 
eral nobles who fully realized what the conditions 
meant, but they seemed to exert no influence upon 
the court. The first sign of liberalism on the part 
of a nobleman put him outside the pale of the royal 
circle and placed him under suspicion. On the 
other hand the commons, at this time, were politic 
in their conduct, were patient under insult and in- 
solence, and won to their cause the conservatives of 
all classes by the display of a temperate, loyal, and 
patriotic spirit. 

What greater wisdom, for instance, could have 
been shown, after the union of the orders on the 
27th, than the adoption of a resolution proposed by 
Mirabeau that the Assembly should issue an address 
to the people, counseling moderation and political 
tolerance. " Fellow-citizens, whose aim, like ours, 
is the public good, but who seek it in another direc- 
tion; men who, under the sway of the prejudices 
of education and of the habits of childhood, have 
not the strength to turn against the stream, who 
tremble for their property, who fear that liberty 
may be the pretext of license, all such men deserve 
that we should treat them with consideration. . . . 
Our fate depends on our wisdom. Nothing but our 
violence can imperil that liberty which reason se- 
cures to us." 

Another wise and politic move was the appeal by 
the Assembly to the king to withdraw the troops 
after their mobilization at Versailles, and when the 


bridge had been seized between that city and Paris. 
Mirabeau moved the address to the king, describ- 
ing to his Majesty " the vivid alarm which has been 
felt in the Assembly because of the abuse which has 
been made of the king's name, in order to permit 
the approach to the capital and to this city of Ver- 
sailles of an artillery train and of enormous bodies 
of troops, foreign and national, which troops are 
quartered in neighboring villages and in fixed 
camps in the neighborhood of these two cities." 

Mirabeau in his speech upon this question clearly 
proved that from every point of view the court 
party was making a mistake in placing the army in 
sight of the disturbances of Paris ; that the soldiers, 
men of the people, would soon become affected by 
the popular spirit and the discipline and loyalty of 
the army would be ruined by party influence, dif- 
ferences, and controversy. 

The address to the king was humble and respect- 
ful in its tone, clear in its meaning, and earnest in 
its purpose. In substance it said : " Sire, you have 
asked the National Assembly to repose in you its 
confidence ; this surpasses their fondest hopes. We 
therefore come to confide in your Majesty our great 
fears. But, Sire, we do not crave your protection, 
that would be offending your sense of justice. 
We have our fears, and they arise from the purest 
patriotism; they are connected with the interests 
of our constituents, with the public peace, and with 
the happiness of our beloved monarch. 

" In the generous feelings of your heart, Sire, 
may be found the real salvation of the French peo- 
ple. When the troops, marching from all quarters, 


camped around us investing the capital, we asked 
ourselves with astonishment, * Does the king doubt 
the fidelity of his people? What is the meaning of 
this threatening display? Where are the enemies 
of the state and the throne who are to be subdued ? 
Where are the rebels and plotters that have to be 
kept down? A unanimous cry comes up from the 
capital, yea, from the whole kingdom, ' We love our 
king and we thank God for the gift of his love.' 

" How is it possible, Sire, to make you doubt the 
love and attachment of your subjects? Have you 
ever spilled their blood ? Are you cruel or implaca- 
ble? Have you betrayed the cause of justice? Do 
the people blame you for their misfortunes, or name 
you as the cause of their calamities ? Has any one 
ever told you that the people chafe under the yoke 
of Bourbon sway? No, no, they cannot have 
done so. 

" Your majesty has recently seen how your sub- 
jects quieted down after the recent agitations and 
how the public peace was restored by one word 
from you. If the peace had been broken by the em- 
ployment of force the blood of your subjects would 
have been shed in torrents. 

" But the kindly word of peace came straight 
from your heart and your subjects are proud that 
they have never opposed your rule. It is noble to 
govern by such means; this was the empire pos- 
sessed by Louis IX., Louis XII. , and Henry IV., 
and is the only one which is worthy of you. This 
is the only empire that it will be possible to estab- 
lish in France. We should deceive you if we were 
not bold enough to tell you this. 


" Our opponents will say, ' In what manner does 
the presence of the troops constitute a danger? 
Why should the Assembly complain? They should 
be incapable of cowardice. 

" Sire, the danger is pressing, is universal. The 
danger threatens the provinces. If they become 
alarmed as to our freedom, we know of no curb that 
will hold them. Distance exaggerates everything; 
it doubles all anxieties, embitters and envenoms 

1 The danger threatens the capital. How will a 
people, hungry and impoverished, be willing to di- 
vide their subsistence with a threatening soldiery? 
The presence of the troops will irritate the temper 
of the people and the first act of violence committed 
under the pretext of keeping order may be the be- 
ginning of a series of horrible misfortunes. 

" We of the Assembly are but men. There is con- 
tagion in excitement ; we may be governed by vio- 
lent and unreasoning counsels ; calm and cool wis- 
dom do not deliver their oracles in the midst of 
tumult, disorders, and quarrels. 

" Sire, we are always ready to obey you because 
you rule us in the name of Justice; our fidelity is 
beyond all limit, as it is without suspicion. 

" Sire, we implore you in the name of the nation, 
in the name of your happiness and of your glory, 
send back your soldiers to their posts from whence 
your counsellors have dragged them. Send back 
the artillery, which is only intended to defend the 
frontiers against invasion, and which is never to be 
used to intimidate your loyal subjects; above all 
things, Sire, send away those foreign troops, those 


mercenaries, whom we pay to protect but not to 
trouble our hearths. Your majesty does not need 
them. How can a monarch who is adored by 
twenty millions of Frenchmen surround his throne 
at great cost with a few thousand foreigners? 

" Sire, in the midst of your children be guarded 
by their love." 

Alas ! it was not this manly, patriotic appeal that 
caused the dispersion of the troops. The uprising 
of the people, not their kind words, nor affectionate 
appeals, commanded the attention of the king. 

" Have the reckless men that counsel Louis," 
said Mirabeau, " studied the causes and the course 
of revolutions in the past ? Do they not know that 
the wisest are often carried beyond the limits of 
moderation and that a frenzied people are hurried 
towards excesses by a dreadful impulse from which 
at first thought they would have shrunk in horror?" 

If the king had had a wise adviser and a strong 
leader at his side at this period the Revolution could 
have been directed into a peaceful channel. Even 
after the fall of the Bastile, the loyalty of the peo- 
ple was most marked. If the king had been politic, 
if he had said the right word at the right time, if 
he had shown some spirit, some sincerity, some pre- 
cision and decision of character, he could have won 
the people, and saved his crown as well as his head, 
but he was like a mere log floating on the waters ; 
he was helpless. The reforms that he would have 
guaranteed would have been secured to the people 
only a little earlier and he would be honored in his- 
tory as the reformer instead of being pitied as the 
victim of the Revolution. 


Immediately after the fall of the Bastile was the 
time for the king to win over his people. His roy- 
alist friends had abandoned him at the first sign of 
real danger; they had scattered like rats from a 
sinking ship, and there was no longer any reason 
why he should not, regardless of their views and in- 
terests, have made an honorable peace with his 






NECKER, who had been endeavoring to devise 
some scheme that would relieve the financial condi- 
tion of the country, brought forward on September 
24, 1789, a measure providing for an income tax of 
twenty-five per cent. Several of his former pro- 
posals had met with disaster, but this time he had 
the support of Mirabeau, who summoned all his 
energy to urge the adoption of the measure, and 
never did the great tribune, in all his career, rise 
to grander heights of eloquence. Three times he 
spoke in the debate, and the last time he swept 
away all opposition. So deep an impression did he 
make on the Assembly that no one even attempted 
to reply. He predicted a national bankruptcy if 
this plan were rejected and appealed to the Assem- 
bly to pass it as it came from the hands of the 
minister, without the slightest alteration or modifi- 

Dumont, in describing the scene, says : ' The 
triumph was complete. The Assembly were sub- 
jugated by the power of a superior and an ener- 
getic mind, which acts upon the multitude as if it 
were only a single individual, and the project was 


adopted without a dissenting voice." Dumont says 
further : " The force with which he presented so 
commonplace a subject was miraculous; he ele- 
vated it to sublimity. Those who heard this speech 
will never forget it; it excited every gradation of 
terror, and a devouring gulf with the groans of the 
victims it swallowed, of which the orator gave a 
very appalling description, seemed pictured to the 
senses of the audience." 

The Journal de Paris, in describing the effect 
produced by the dramatic eloquence of the orator 
upon the Assembly, quotes the compliment paid by 
^Eschines to his great rival, Demosthenes : " What 
would you have felt had you been present and 
heard the beast !" It was the greatest oratorical 
effort ever made in the National Assembly, from 
the beginning to the close of that congress of re- 
markable orators. 

Dumont writes : " From that day Mirabeau was 
considered as a being superior to other men. He 
had no rival ; there were, indeed, other orators, but 
he alone was eloquent; and this impression was 
stronger because in his speech on this question he 
was obliged to depend entirely upon his own re- 
sources, for it was an unexpected reply, and could 
not, therefore, have been prepared." 

This was the reason of its success. Had he care- 
fully written his speech and committed it to mem- 
ory, it would have been mere declamation. But 
his mood, the occasion, the theme, were ripe for the 
effort, and he spoke living, burning words that 
came red-hot from his soul. No care that had pol- 
ished his words, adjusted his phrases and sentences, 


and regulated his gestures, could have produced 
such an effect. 

Mole, the celebrated actor at the Theatre Fran- 
gais, was present, and was wrought up to great 
enthusiasm and admiration. He came forward to 
offer his compliments. " Ah ! Monsieur le Comte," 
said he, visibly affected and in a pathetic tone of 
voice, " what a speech ! and with what an accent 
did you deliver it ! You have surely missed your 
vocation." The poor actor had mistaken real elo- 
quence for declamation, and strange to say, Mira- 
beau was much flattered by the compliment. 

Such a speech, when read in cold type, conveys 
but a faint idea of the fiery impetuosity of the 
orator. His voice, his manner, his ardor, the 
spirit of the occasion, the listening, excited audi- 
ence, eager to catch every word, are all wanting. 
In a translation the original, of course, loses much 
of its native force and meaning, but nevertheless 
we will give the peroration which produced upon 
the audience so remarkable an impression. It is 
as follows: 

" Oh, if less solemn declarations did not insure 
our respect for public faith and our horror of the 
infamous word bankruptcy, I would search into the 
secret motives, unknown perhaps to ourselves, 
which make us draw back at the very instant we 
are called upon to consummate a great sacrifice; 
inefficacious, it is true, unless it be sincere; and I 
would say to those who, from the fear of sacrifices 
and the dread of taxes, are, perhaps, familiarizing 
their minds with the idea of not keeping faith with 
the public creditor : what is such bankruptcy itself 


but the most cruel, the most iniquitous, the most 
unequal, the most ruinous of taxes? 

" My friends, listen to a word, a single word ! 
Two centuries of depredations and robbery have 
dug the gulf into which the kingdom is about to 
fall. This horrible gulf must be filled up! But 
how ? There is but one way. Here is a list of rich 
men in France. Choose from among them the rich- 
est, in order that you may sacrifice fewer citizens ; 
but choose, at all events, for must not the smaller 
number perish to save the great mass of the peo- 
ple? Well, these two thousand rich men are pos- 
sessed of sufficient wealth to make up the defi- 
ciency. Restore order to your finances, peace and 
prosperity to the country, strike, immolate your 
victims without pity, throw them into the abyss 
and it will close. . . . What, do you draw back 
horror-stricken, ye inconsistent, ye pusillanimous 
men ! Well, then, do you not perceive that in pro- 
claiming a bankruptcy, or, what is yet more odious, 
in rendering it inevitable without proclaiming it, 
you will be soiled by an act ten thousand times 
more criminal, a thing inconceivable, gratuitously 
criminal? For, after all, that horrible sacrifice 
would at least wipe off the deficit. And do you 
imagine, because you will not have paid, you will 
then owe nothing? Do you imagine that the thou- 
sands, the millions of men who will lose in an in- 
stant, by that terrible explosion or by its reaction, 
all that constituted the consolation of their life, and 
perchance, their only means of sustenance, that 
they will leave you peaceably to fatten on your 
crime? Stoical contemplators of the incalculable 


evils which that catastrophe will vomit upon 
France! Stupid egotists! who fancy the convul- 
sions of despair and of misery will pass away as 
all others and so much the more rapidly, because 
they are violent ! Are ye certain that so many men 
without food will leave you tranquil to devour 
those dishes of which you have desired to diminish 
neither the number nor the delicacy ? No ! you will 
perish ; and in the universal conflagration you have 
not shuddered to enkindle, the loss of your honor 
will not preserve one of your detestable enjoy- 
ments! Vote, then, this extraordinary subsidy: 
may it be sufficient ! Vote it, because, if you have 
any doubts upon the methods (doubts vague and 
not enlightened), you have none upon the neces- 
sity. Vote it, because the public circumstances will 
suffer no delay, and we are responsible for all 
delay. Refrain from demanding time misfortune 
cannot grant it. 

" Gentlemen, I remember, concerning a ridicu- 
lous motion of the Palais Royal concerning a 
laughable insurrection which had no importance 
save in feeble imagination, or in the perverse de- 
signs of some men of evil intentions, you heard 
these furious words, ' Catiline is at the gates of 
Rome; and they deliberate.' And truly, there was 
then around us neither Catiline, nor perils, nor fac- 
tions, nor Rome. But to-day, bankruptcy, hideous 
bankruptcy, is there : it threatens to consume your- 
selves, your properties and your honor, and yet you 

So eloquent, so fiery an appeal silenced all oppo- 
sition Necker's measure was passed. 
20 305 


At this time, Mirabeau, whose popularity was 
greater with the people than it was with the depu- 
ties, was constantly in Paris attending meetings in 
the districts and courting the friendship and influ- 
ence of the mob's leaders. He absented himself so 
frequently from Versailles and the sessions of the 
Assembly that his conduct aroused suspicion among 
his colleagues, who could not altogether divine his 

When Regnault de St. Jean d'Angely made a 
motion to prohibit the members of the Assembly 
from attending the district meetings, Mirabeau felt 
that the motion was aimed directly at him, and as 
he mounted the tribune to oppose it, he whispered 
into the ear of d'Angely, " I will wring tears of 
blood from you." He kept his word. 

Mirabeau was visiting the district meetings for 
the purpose of strengthening his popularity, hoping 
thereby to secure that aid which would enable 
him ultimately to carry out his projects, if he were 
ever successful in forming an alliance with the 

Mirabeau saw that he could be most useful to the 
monarchy if he could secure a position that would 
bring him into close or official connection with the 
king. He had the greatest confidence in his abil- 
ity, if he had the power of the throne back of him, 
to stay the Revolution and to establish permanently 
a constitutional monarchy. If he had had the sup- 
port of the king and the loyalty of the people, he 
could have controlled the Assembly. It was neces- 
sary, in order to save the crown, to have the moral 
and political influence and support of the monarch. 


He could not accomplish his project by organiz- 
ing a strong party among the deputies. Mirabeau 
was, in no sense of the word, a party man. He had 
supreme confidence in himself, depended upon his 
own resources, and made no permanent alliances 
with the different factional leaders of the Assembly. 
He was at no time identified with any clique. He 
was a free lance, and was ever bold and independ- 
ent in the expression of his views. He was too 
proud to serve in second place and perhaps too au- 
tocratic and dictatorial to secure as chief of a fac- 
tion the support of men of spirit. He was too out- 
spoken in his criticism of men and methods to be a 
mere party leader. He was not a man who would 
trim his views to suit the declarations of a party 
convention, nor would he have his political princi- 
ples circumscribed by platform resolutions. He 
held an absolutely unique position in the Assembly. 
Louis Blanc, after describing the three principal 
party groups in the Assembly, closes his description 
by saying : " The fourth party consisted of one 
man, Mirabeau." 

As early as May, 1789, he wrote: "It is to 
undertake a proud and difficult task to minister to 
the public welfare without sparing any party, with- 
out worshipping the idol of the day, without other 
arms than reason and truth, respecting them every- 
where, respecting nothing but them, having no 
other friends than them, no other enemies than 
their adversaries, not recognizing another monarch 
than one's conscience, no other judge than time. 
Well, I shall perhaps succumb in this enterprise, 
but I will persist in it." 



In a letter to Mauvillon, he writes : " In truth, 
in a certain sense, everything is good to me; the 
events, the men, the things, the opinions all have 
their uses. I am too old to waste my strength in 
warfare. I wish to aid him who aids me; let us 
excommunicate nobody and associate ourselves 
with everybody. Mai est ce qui nuit, bien est ce 
qui sert. We ought to guard ourselves against 
being enemies of other classes; it is posterity that 
will distinguish the ranks." 

He saw the growing influence of Robespierre 
and courted his society; he cajoled and flattered 
Camille Desmoulins, the idol of the Palais Royal, 
but he did not identify himself with their party. 
He had his own views and he used these men to 
reach his own ends. 

He declared boldly to his friend, La Marck, that 
if it had not been for his father's death, which 
caused his absence from Paris on the i5th of July, 
he would have secured the mayoralty instead of 
Bailly. Perhaps it was this office he was seeking 
and plotting for, at the time his absence was com- 
plained of in the Assembly. This, no doubt, was 
the ambition that called him so often to Paris to 
harangue the multitude. His whole purpose was 
to be in a position where he could secure the confi- 
dence of the king, or where it would be necessary 
to be consulted by the court. 

His alliance with the Duke of Orleans was with 
the intention of having the duke made sub-lieuten- 
ant of the kingdom, so that in case the king died, 
fled, or was deposed, he would be close to the man 
in the line of succession. When he discovered 


what a craven the duke was, he dismissed him, 
without further delay, from all consideration. 

Mirabeau, from the very beginning, felt that if 
he could only become a minister, he would save the 
monarchy, and his foresight enabled him to see 
clearly that if there was not a strong guiding hand, 
the throne, in a short time, would be overturned 
and the state surrendered to party and faction. He 
saw the weakness of the king and the shortcom- 
ings and incapacity of Necker, and he longed for a 
chance to advise one and supplant the other. To 
his friend, La Marck, he said : " The vessel of 
state is being driven before the tempest and there 
is no one at the helm." He longed to lay his hand 
upon the helm and pilot the vessel through the 
stormy seas. His desire was to reach the ministry, 
not only for the gratification of his personal ambi- 
tion, but for the safety of France. 

" Give him money," cried the queen, " money 
till he is gorged, but Mirabeau in the ministry, 
never!" It took a long while and imminent dan- 
gers to induce her to believe that Mirabeau could 
materially aid in re-establishing the tottering 
throne, and when they did come to an understand- 
ing it was perhaps too late for any human power 
to change the course of the Revolution. 

Mirabeau was what might be termed a " liberal 
royalist." He opposed an absolute monarchy, but 
believed in a strong executive, an hereditary aris- 
tocracy, and a ministry responsible to the people, 
with seats in the States General. He strongly fa- 
vored a suspensive veto vested in the king. He 
believed in the monarchy, but he knew the time had 


come when concessions had to be made to the peo- 
ple's demands. Reform in government was an ab- 
solute necessity. The administration of public 
affairs had been corrrupt and tyrannical; church 
and state had oppressed and tyrannized the people, 
had enjoyed all the privileges and had imposed the 
most cruel exactions. The whole system was un- 
just, rotten, and corrupt to the core, and had been 
built up by centuries of absolutism, injustice and 
extravagance, until the miseries of the people could 
be endured no longer. It was a structure that was 
top-heavy and resting upon a foundation of weak 
and insecure material. We may compare the sys- 
tem of abuses and tyranny built up by the ancien 
regime to a reversed pyramid spinning on its point; 
so long as the original impetus keeps the pyramid 
in motion its balance is preserved, but a blow or a 
shock makes it wobble and destroys its equilibrium. 
Mirabeau saw the true conditions and knew that 
the time had come when the old order could not be 
saved, but he was anxious to save the throne and to 
make secure the needed reforms. " Let them know 
in the palace," said Mirabeau to La Marck, " that 
I am more their friend than their enemy." La 
Marck was specially impressed with the anxiety of 
Mirabeau as to the future. " What are these peo- 
ple thinking about?" said Mirabeau to his friend. 
" Can they not see the gulf yawning before their 
feet? Yes, all is lost, the king and the queen will 
perish and the mob will spurn their corpses. Even 
you do not realize how dangerous their position is, 
and yet they ought to be made to understand it." 







THE court, after the emotional legislation of the 
4th of August, 1 789, began to unite their forces for 
one more desperate effort to resist the Revolution 
and to save the monarchy. The plan was to carry 
the king to Metz, where was stationed the loyal 
army of Bouille, there raise the royal standard and 
call to the king's side all the valiant spirits of 
France devoted to the interests of the kingdom and 
the old noblesse. This meant civil war. The se- 
crets of the court reached the ears of the people. 

The news only increased the revolutionary spirit. 
The Palais Royal echoed day after day with the 
rantings of demagogues. The district meetings 
were crowded, and the orators grew bolder and 
bolder. Pamphlets were distributed broadcast sow- 
ing the seeds of sedition. 

An incident occurred, at this time, which mo- 
mentarily gave hope to the royalists, but in the 
end gave fiesh impulse and impetus to the Rev- 

The troops of the king were mobilized at Ver- 
sailles. The Body Guard tendered a banquet to the 
officers of the Flanders regiment. The supper was 


served in the royal theatre. It was a scene of 
splendor. The boxes were filled with beautiful 
women who were not chary in dispensing their 
smiles and applause. Heated with wine, inspired 
by the strains of ravishing- music, the enthusiasm of 
the diners grew in fervor every minute. At the 
second course the grenadiers and dragoons were 
admitted to witness the spectacle. " The charge of 
the Hullans" aroused the fire in the hearts of the 
soldiers. Suddenly the king was announced. He 
entered the hall, the queen leaning on his arm, and 
carrying the dauphin. The crowd went mad with 
delight. Shouts and cheers greeted the royal fam- 
ily. Their health was drunk, swords were drawn, 
and oaths of allegiance given. The nation was in- 
sulted, the king exalted. 

As Louis withdrew, the band played " O Rich- 
ard! O mon roi! 1'univers t'abandonne." Yes, 
Louis, all the world abandons thee ! Such a senti- 
ment appealed to every heart. Tears started to the 
eyes of fair women and vows to the lips of brave 
men. Who could help being loyal? Who, under 
these conditions, could be wise ? The guests threw 
off all restraint and the palace that had been so dark 
and gloomy since the nobles fled, resounded once 
more with mirth and gladness. Old memories were 
revived of happy days long since departed and the 
future was radiant with hope. Court ladies pinned 
on the breasts of loyal soldiers the white ribbon of 
the Bourbons, while the tri-color of the Revolution 
was trampled under foot. It was far into the 
morning hours before the revelry ceased, before the 
fights of the palace were extinguished. 


While the feast was on " all went merry as a 
marriage bell," but in the distance could be heard 
the dreadful tocsin ringing. Paris had its ear to 
the ground. It was listening to the merry-making; 
it was starving while Versailles was feasting. Ru- 
mors, exaggerated and distorted, flew thick and 
fast on their way to the Palais Royal. The dema- 
gogues and the popular orators shrieked in wild 
and furious accents : " An orgy in the court while 
in the capital the people cry for bread ! The cockade 
is crushed under the feet of royalists and foreign 
soldiers ; the nation is in danger, your peace is as- 
sailed and your liberty menaced." " J'ai ete en- 
chantee de la journee de Jeudi," said the queen, 
and her words flew like wildfire through the capi- 
tal. It was an unlucky Thursday for her, but she 
could not read the handwriting on the wall nor see 
far enough into the future to measure the conse- 
quences of that untimely feast. The royalists never 
could see far enough ahead to keep them out of 

Petion, in a fiery speech, denounced the banquet 
that had aroused all the envy and hatred of the 
starving populace. A royalist called on him to ex- 
plain his denunciation. Mirabeau exclaimed : " Let 
it be expressly declared that whosoever is not king 
is a subject and responsible, and I will furnish 
proof as to the guilty parties." This was intended 
for the queen, for as he left the tribune he re- 
marked in a stage whisper : " I will denounce the 
queen and the Duke of Guiche" (one of the cap- 
tains of the guard) . This was intended to deter the 
Right from further pushing the inquiry. Let it be 


decreed that she is a subject and her conduct then 
will be investigated and criticised. An investiga- 
tion might have touched the danger-line, and so 
her friends pressed the matter no further. 

Oh ! it was cruel that while money was so scarce 
and food so dear, the court should have flaunted 
its extravagance in the face of a starving people. 
Paris was maddened with the thought. 

On the morning of October 5, 1789, a young 
woman, beating a drum, gathers a crowd of women 
and without a definite purpose they march, and at 
every step their ranks increase. They reach the 
Town Hall and take possession of it. In the belfry 
they find a priest, the Abbe Lefevre, whom they 
straightway hang to a rafter. He, fortunately, 
after the women disappear, is cut down by a kindly 
hand before life is extinct. They dance and sing 
and laugh, but without any reason for their merri- 
ment. Some one starts the cry for bread, then they 
become more serious and show some temper. A 
popular orator addresses them and says Paris has 
no bread, but at Versailles there is enough and to 
spare; that there may be some crumbs and wine left 
over from the feast and the revelry of the guards. 
' To Versailles," is now the cry, and the crowd that 
has grown to the size of a grand army, begins its 
march. On it flows like a mighty torrent, this mul- 
titude of amazons led by a strumpet ; but there are 
good and honest women in that crow r d, hundreds 
of them, who, in the mad excitement of the hour, 
jostle with frail sisters and elbow the scuff and 
scum of Paris; but they turn not back from their 
errand ; they are hungry and need bread, and who 


can give it them if not the king, the father of his 
people ? 

The rain begins to fall, but it does not dampen 
their ardor. Cheered by songs and encouraged by 
their leaders, they soon reach Versailles. Hungry, 
ragged, tired, covered with mud, they present a 
woeful spectacle; a sorrier sight has never been 
witnessed in this courtly city of Versailles, where 
only a few months before the States General 
marched through its streets amidst a dazzling 

Couriers had preceded the mob and the palace 
was thrown into excitement ; messengers were sent 
out to Meudon, where the king was hunting, and to 
Trianon, where the queen was feasting. Prepara- 
tions were made for the king and the queen to flee, 
but Louis, with that indecision that always marked 
his conduct, at last decided to remain. Surely there 
can be no danger in facing a rabble of women; a 
few words of flattery and some bread to appease 
their hunger will end. the affair, but Louis knew 
not how to deliver the words, and made no prep- 
arations to distribute the bread. 

The news that this motley army was on its way 
to Versailles reached the Assembly while Mirabeau 
was denouncing the banquet of the guards, and the 
insult that had been offered to the national cockade. 
Immediately after he ceased speaking he went be- 
hind the president's chair and whispered in the ear 
of Mounier : " Paris is marching on us ! Make an 
excuse, vacate the chair and go over to the palace 
and give them warning ; say that I told you, if you 
like. Time presses, there is not a moment to lose." 


"So much the better," said Mounier; "they have 
only to kill us all ; the affairs of the republic would 
only gain." " Sir, the phrase is neat and well 
spoken," said Mirabeau, and at once he left the 
hall. He went to the lodgings of his friend, La 
Marck, where he dined. Mounier, however, acting 
on the advice of Mirabeau, went over to the palace, 
but at that time the king had not returned from his 
hunting. When Louis reached Versailles the presi- 
dent of the Assembly, with a deputation of five 
women, waited upon him and told him of the dis- 
tress in Paris and begged him to supply the city 
with grain and food. He promised, put his promise 
in writing, and a committee of women were sent 
to Paris in the king's carriages to inform Bailly, 
the Mayor, that the misery of the people would be 

The crowd, however, remained in Versailles. 
The rain continued to pour in torrents. A cold Oc- 
tober wind was blowing and the night closed in, 
dark and cheerless. A crowd of women took shelter 
in the Assembly and listened to the debates, often 
interrupting the speakers and frequently calling for 
Mirabeau. " We want to hear our dear little 
mother Mirabeau," was the cry from the galleries. 

Outside the hall, bivouac fires were burning, and 
around these gathered shivering men and women ; 
many of them slept during the night on the cold, 
wet ground without cover or shelter from the 

About midnight the drums of the army of La- 
Fayette were heard; the National Guard was on 
its way to Versailles. Its presence was necessary, 


for already a scuffle had taken place between the 
mob and the household troops. It was two o'clock 
in the morning before tranquillity was restored. 
The mob, the troops, the court, were fatigued and 
exhausted after a day of such excitement, and the 
city was hushed. The Assembly, however, re- 
mained in session until four o'clock, when, as Du- 
mont says, " Mirabeau returned, rebuked the noisy 
women and moved an adjournment." 

Early in the morning some men of the mob, 
prowling around the palace, find a gate of the cha- 
teau open. They enter, and are fired on by a soldier 
of the household guard. The anger of the mob is 
aroused and they press on, having a hand-to-hand 
conflict with the troops ; thousands rush to the res- 
cue, doors are battered down, the palace is entered, 
the sentinels flee, and the cry resounds : " Save the 
queen !" " Save the queen !" She hears the alarm, 
and in terror, half dressed, she rushes into the 
apartments of the king. The crowd press on and 
clamor for the heart and the blood of the " Aus- 
trienne." " We want her head on a pike," shriek 
the men. " We want to carry her entrails in our 
aprons," cry the angry, maddened women. Brave 
soldiers stand in defence and offer their lives in sac- 
rifice and fight with all the courage of desperation, 
their courage inspired and intensified by the fact 
that they are defending not only a beautiful queen, 
but an unfortunate, a defenceless woman. Indi- 
vidual bravery, however, cannot withstand the 
ferocious onslaught of a wild and frenzied mob. 
The crowd surge on, door after door is broken 
down, until, at last, they reach the apartments of 


the queen; she has escaped, her bed is still warm 
and marked with the impression of her body; ruf- 
fians slash the bedclothes in disappointed rage, furi- 
ous at the loss of their quarry. 

It would have been fortunate for Marie An- 
toinette had she been murdered at this time; it 
would have saved her much woe, bitter humiliation 
and the dreadful suffering through which she had 
yet to pass. It might, too, perhaps, have been for- 
tunate for France and might have secured a consti- 
tution without further bloodshed and terror. It 
would have removed the queen from every consid- 
eration, would have created a sympathy for the 
royal family, and would have induced a determined 
effort upon the part of all conservative citizens to 
restore order and to secure the needed reforms by 
moderate means. 

While the crowd, thwarted in their purpose, are 
considering what next to do, the French Guards 
arrive, turn their bayonets on the mob and drive 
them out of the palace. 

La Fayette, who, unfortunately, overslept him- 
self, hastens to the king to assure him of his loyalty 
and to promise him protection. 

The rabble outside call for Louis, and he is per- 
suaded by La Fayette to appear upon a balcony. At 
the sight of the king a shout goes up from the mul- 
titude, for, strange to say, he still has their loyalty. 
They demand the queen, and leading the dauphin 
by the hand, she comes out to face that angry mob. 
" Put away the child," they cry. Instantly she 
obeys the cruel request, and she stands alone in all 
the courage and dignity of her womanhood. A 


contemporary in describing her appearance says: 
" She was dressed in white, her head was bare and 
adorned with beautiful fair locks. Motionless and 
in a modest and noble attitude she appeared like a 
victim on the block." If there ever was a moment 
in the life of Marie Antoinette when she played the 
role of queen, it was on that balcony when she faced 
a mob of angry men and infuriated women, who, a 
few minutes before, had hunted her with murder in 
their hearts. Her beauty was resplendent, her cour- 
age was sublime. It was a sight that aroused a 
sentiment even in the hearts of her bitter enemies. 
The growls and murmurs subsided. At first the 
cheers were faint, but gradually they swelled into 
a chorus of " Long live the queen." It was too late 
to win the affection of the crowd, but she com- 
manded for a time, at least, their admiration and 
respect. La Fayette, with all the gallantry of his 
nature, knelt at her side and kissed her hand. The 
crowd that would have murdered her a minute be- 
fore turned to applaud her. This was her hour to 
die. Would that some fiend or friend had sent a 
bullet through her heart ! 

The king must go to Paris. The mob demanded 
it, and La Fayette also favored this course. It was 
a sad and sorry moment for Louis and his queen 
when they turned their backs on Versailles. The 
people had conquered their king and they carried 
him back to Paris as their captive. He might as 
well have been in chains. It was the triumph of 
the people. Once before he had been escorted 
by the mob to his capital, but the scene that was 
now presented was grotesque, melancholy, terrible. 


Louis, of course, took it all complacently, for he 
was not capable of feeling any deep emotion, nor 
apprehending the full meaning of any event. But 
what must have been the sensations of the queen? 
What must have been the thoughts that controlled 
her imperious mind? There were moments, no 
doubt, when she desired less to be saved than to 
be avenged. How she longed for the coming of 
that day when she could take vengeance on those 
who were responsible for her humiliation; how 
she marked her enemies for destruction ; but alas ! 
for her, there was to be no change in her fortunes ; 
this was only the beginning of her sorrows. 

She understood, with its full significance, what 
the return of the king to the capital meant, under 
such circumstances. She felt keenly the disgrace, 
and her proud spirit rebelled within her, though she 
dared not reveal in her face the thoughts that 
stirred her soul. She was dependent for her safety 
upon those whom she feared and hated, and it is a 
difficult part to play when a haughty woman has to 
smile and accept favors from those whom she, in 
her heart, despises. 

La Fayette did all in his power to protect her 
from insult, but his kindly offices only chafed her 
proud spirit and placed her under seeming obliga- 
tion. To him, in a great measure, she attributed 
her disgrace and humiliation, and while she smiled 
upon him, she hated him. 

The procession from the van to the rear was a 
wild and crazy mob. The National Guard in front 
marched without military order or discipline, carry- 
ing loaves of bread upon the points of their bayon- 


ets ; behind them came a crowd of men and women 
from the slums of Paris, dancing and singing like 
bacchanals, flaunting in the face of the queen their 
insults and derision. It is said that the heads of 
the two murdered men of the Body Guard, the men 
who had sacrificed their lives in defence of the 
queen, were borne aloft on pikes ; but this has been 
denied; the proofs of the denial, however, are not 
altogether conclusive. It is to be hoped that some 
men had influence enough in that crowd to have 
prevented such a spectacle. It is almost impos- 
sible to believe that La Fayette would have per- 
mitted such an insult to the king. In referring 
to this matter, Gouverneur Morris wrote a letter 
on October 6, in which he said " two heads of the 
Body Guards are brought to town, and the royal 
family are to come this afternoon." There are 
many contradictory statements on this subject, and 
it is hard to reach the truth through such a mass 
of conflicting testimony. 

In the procession marched the Body Guard, dis- 
armed and bareheaded, captives of war. Could a 
greater ignominy have been placed upon the king 
and the queen than that their defenders should have 
been thus disgraced, only because they had fought 
bravely in their efforts to protect and save the royal 
family ? 

The king's carriage was surrounded by the depu- 
tation of one hundred members, appointed by the 
Assembly, to escort his Majesty to Paris. Soldiers, 
under the immediate command of La Fayette, 
guarded the royal family and the deputies, and be- 
hind them came another crowd of men and women 
21 321 


marching in disorder and confusion, assailing the 
ears of the queen with their ribald and indecent 

" I still see, I still hear," wrote a contemporary 
witness, " those bedraggled women, rendered yet 
more hideous by two days of barbarous fatigue. I 
see the Regiment of Flanders, those chasseurs of 
the Trois Eveches, ashamed of their too ready de- 
fection and seeming now to envy the men of the 
Body Guard those perils which they had the cow- 
ardice not to share. I see again the General La- 
Fayette, pale from weariness, yet more pale from 
the results of his fatal sleep." 

Another contemporary witness writes : " Mad- 
men dancing in the mire and covered with mud, 
surrounded the king's coach. The groups that 
marched foremost carried on long pikes the bloody 
heads of the life-guardsmen butchered in the morn- 
ing. ... A troop of women, ugly as crime itself, 
swarming like insects and wearing grenadiers' 
hairy caps, went continually to and fro, howling 
barbarous songs, embracing and insulting the life- 

This distressing, melancholy procession wended 
its way slowly to Paris, carrying the king a prisoner 
to his capital. 

It was Saint Priest who told Louis, " Sire, if you 
allow yourself to be taken to Paris, your crown is 

From this moment the power of the monarchy 
passes into the hands of the mob. " The riff-raff 
of Paris is become the despot of all France." In 
his own capital, the king is held as hostage. 


At first the struggle had been between the nobil- 
ity and the Third Estate; then between the king 
and the Assembly; and at last, between the king 
and the people, and in every contest Louis and his 
friends had suffered ignoble defeat. Even the 
Assembly was now dominated by the clubs and 
the mob. The rabble was in supreme control. 

The king established his court in the Tuileries. 
The Assembly voted him, at his request, 25,000,- 
ooo francs ($5,000,000) for his household ex- 
penses, and to the queen an allowance of 4,000,000 
francs ($800,000). In view of the prevailing con- 
ditions and the poverty of the treasury, these 
amounts were most generous. 

The king settled down and seemed as well con- 
tented at Paris as at Versailles. He ate heartily, 
slept soundly and, with renewed energy, devoted 
himself to the construction of locks; rumor states 
they were most clumsily made. He was about as 
good a mechanic as he was a king. 

After Louis came to Paris, the Assembly made 
arrangements to follow him. There was some diffi- 
culty in finding a suitable meeting-place or conven- 
tion-hall, but at last a riding-school in the neigh- 
borhood of the Tuileries was selected, and the As- 
sembly lost no time in taking possession. It was a 
coincidence that the change was from a tennis-court 
to a riding-school. Both places had been devoted 
to the amusements of the nobles. The selections 
seemed to be the irony of fate. 

The events of the 5th and 6th of October were 
said to have been inspired by Mirabeau and the 
Duke of Orleans. It was contended that the upris- 


ing of the people was not spontaneous, but that the 
leaders of the mob, many of them disguised as 
women, were supplied with money by Mirabeau, 
and instructed as to the plan of action. 

Mounier firmly believed that Mirabeau was re- 
sponsible for the disorders of October 5 and 6, and 
for that reason refused to name him a member of 
the deputation appointed to accompany the king 
from Versailles to Paris. Mirabeau felt much cha- 
grined over this slight, for his appointment as a 
member of this delegation would have given him 
a great opportunity to impress the king and the 
queen with his importance. Mounier and La 
Fayette were determined to give no such chance 
to Mirabeau. Let it be said to the credit of Mira- 
beau, however, that there was no proof discovered 
of his connection with such a plot as intimated by 
Mounier. After a most careful investigation of 
the charge at the Chatelet, he was acquitted and 
even his bitterest enemies were convinced of his 
innocence. The result of the inquiry caused a 
most favorable reaction in his favor. 

The insurrection of the I4th of July began in the 
garden of the Palais Royal under the windows of 
the palace of the Duke of Orleans. His retainers 
and partisans had encouraged the disorder and had 
incited the mob to riot. Mirabeau, Talleyrand and 
others had urged the duke to take advantage of the 
opportunity offered, and to insist upon the king 
naming him lord-lieutenant of the kingdom, but 
when the duke saw the king his courage failed 
him, and instead of insisting upon the appoint- 
ment, he intimated that he would willingly go to 



England if his presence in France annoyed his 
royal cousin. 

He displayed so craven a spirit at this time that 
Mirabeau turned away from him with contempt, de- 
claring that he would not have him for his foot- 
man, and further adding "he is an eunuch for 
crime; he would, but cannot." 

While the mob was on its way to Versailles on 
October 5th, urged on by his own agents dressed 
in the garb of women, he again proved himself the 
poltroon. Despicable, cowardly in heart, he was 
frightened to such a degree that his red and bloated 
face turned white. He sought the king's council 
and stood waiting at the door of the chamber, like 
a penitent, to assure them that he was in no way 
responsible for the disorder, and that he was his 
cousin's loyal subject. The wretched liar! he knew 
that his paid agents had been at work inciting the 
people to violence. 

He would willingly have abandoned all his 
accomplices and betrayed their secrets to save him- 
self from the displeasure of the king and the 
vengeance of the law. LaFayette threatened him 
with arrest, and he quietly hurried away to Eng- 
land, where he remained for eight months. Upon 
his return he was received with transport by the 

The Duke of Orleans, surnamed Egalite, was a 
corrupt, sensuous creature, celebrated for his de- 
pravity. He was below the middle stature; "his 
features were regular and pleasing, till libertinism 
and debauchery covered them with red, inflamed 
pustules." He was not actuated by any lofty desire 


to ameliorate the conditions of the people, but he 
courted their favor simply to show his contempt for 
the nobility, which, bad as it was, would not rec- 
ognize him nor tolerate his society. 

In 1778 he was charged with cowardice, in that 
he concealed himself in the hold of a vessel during 
a naval engagement off Ushant. He was to have 
succeeded to the position of High Admiral, but the 
king, in order to humiliate him, appointed him 
Colonel-General of the Hussars. This slight was 
the cause of the intense hatred he had for Louis. 

To gain popularity, he bribed and feasted the 
journalists of Paris. He spread public tables and 
lighted fires for the poor of the city ; he even dis- 
tributed money among them. In consequence, he 
became the idol of the mob. 

Through the resignation of M. Thevenard, in 
1791, he was appointed High Admiral of France. 
To thank the king for the honor conferred, he at- 
tended a royal levee, but the nobles jostled and 
grossly insulted him, even going so far, it is said, as 
to spit in his face. 

When the king's trial took place he voted for his 
death in so cool and heartless a manner that even 
the Jacobins frowned upon him and the Assembly 
murmured its disapproval. He attended, in an open 
carriage, the execution of the king, and after the 
body was removed, drove to the Palais Royal, and 
from there in a coach drawn by six horses went to 
Raincy to revel with his foul companions. 

When his son fled to the camp of Dumouriez, he 
declared that if his son were guilty of treason, the 
image of Brutus before his eyes would teach him 


his duty as a father and a patriot. Shortly after this 
he was marked for execution by Robespierre, and 
sent to the guillotine. On his way to the scaffold, 
when the people hissed and cursed him, he shrugged 
his shoulders and cried out: " Those creatures 
used to applaud me." 





THE events of the 5th and 6th of October had 
sobered the conservatives and had brought them to 
a realizing sense of the universal peril. The mob 
quieted down temporarily, after the king took up 
his residence in the capital, but it had felt its power 
and was ready for an outbreak at any moment. It 
had tasted blood and its appetite was only half sat- 

Bailly and La Fayette put forth strenuous efforts 
to restore order. They soon had an opportunity to 
exercise their power and to enforce the law. The 
mob seized a baker named Francois, who was sus- 
pected of concealing bread for favored customers 
and evading the municipal regulations. He was 
rescued by the authorities, but on the way to the 
Town Hall the prisoner was taken from the offi- 
cers by the mob, and his body, in the twinkling of 
an eye, was dangling at a lamp-post ; his head was 
carried on a pike, followed by an exultant, a 
drunken and disorderly rabble. The elevation of 
heads upon pikes was one of the characteristic feat- 
ures of the French Revolution. It was a horrible 


practice, a hideous spectacle, and early revealed the 
ugly brutality of the mob. " Surely," says Lava- 
lette, " Satan himself first invented the placing of a 
human head at the end of a lance ! The disfigured 
and pale features, the gory locks, the half-open 
mouth, the closed eyes, images of death, added to 
the gestures and salutations which the executioners 
made them perform in horrible mockery of life, pre- 
sented the most frightful spectacle that rage could 
have imagined." 

La Fayette, at the head of a detachment of the 
National Guard, dispersed the mob and captured 
the pole-bearer. The murderer was indicted, tried, 
convicted, sentenced, and put to death the follow- 
ing day. 

The Assembly also took a hand and passed an 
act providing for the suppression of riots and the 
conviction of the rioters. On the 2ist of October 
a martial law was proclaimed which authorized the 
municipal authorities to employ force in dispersing 
mobs after the citizens were ordered to retire. 
Every thoughtful man in France must have known 
at this time that the only escape from civil war was 
the strengthening of the executive and the discour- 
agement of mob rule. A reaction set in, and the 
conservative forces of the nation united their efforts 
to preserve the forms of the monarchy and to re- 
strain the violence of the rabble. But the move- 
ment lacked energy and enthusiasm, and it was too 
late to be effective. 

Mirabeau's ambition was to secure a portfolio, 
and he was laboring earnestly to effect the forma- 


tion of a ministry in which the Assembly would 
have a representation, and of course in his plan he 
was to hold an important place, but his enemies, on 
all sides, were at work and watching his every 

In the Assembly on October 27, 1789, Petion 
proposed that ministers should be declared ineligi- 
ble as representatives, intending thereby to thwart 
the plans of Mirabeau, for it was generally under- 
stood that Mirabeau was bidding and scheming for 
a place in the royal cabinet. Mirabeau succeeded 
in having the debate on this question continued by 
forcing an adjournment. On November 6, 1789, 
he proposed that the ministers should henceforth 
be invited to attend the meetings of the Assembly. 
This proposition would strike a reasonable man as 
wise and desirable, but it met with a most deter- 
mined opposition, no doubt because the enemies of 
Mirabeau thought they discovered the purpose of 
his motion. Lanjuinais, in a fervid speech, ex- 
claimed that the Assembly was " dominated and 
carried away by a man of genius! What would 
he not be able to effect were he a minister!" and 
then proposed that " the representatives of the na- 
tion should be declared incapable of receiving place, 
pension or favor of any kind from the executive 
power during the session of the legislature to which 
they had been elected, and for three years follow- 
ing." An amendment was offered by a deputy 
named Blin " that henceforth no member of the 
Assembly might accept office." 

The radicals, fearing the intrigues of Mirabeau, 
and desirous of blocking the ambition of the great 


tribune, united their forces with Necker, but before 
the vote was taken Mirabeau ascended the tribune, 
knowing full well that he could not, even with all 
the power of his eloquence, snatch victory from de- 
feat. He did not, however, ask favor, beg for 
quarter nor meekly bend his head to the storm. But 
ever defiant and dramatic in manner, even in the 
face of certain defeat, which meant the crushing of 
his hope and ambition, he delivered a speech that 
for sarcasm and irony can hardly find its parallel 
in the oratory of deliberative assemblies. " It could 
not be," he said, " that the member who brought 
forward the motion, thought that a good minister 
could not be found among the chosen men of the 
nation, nor could he mean that because a citizen 
had been able to win the confidence of the people, 
he therefore must be unworthy of the confidence of 
the monarch. After the Assembly had solemnly 
declared all citizens equally eligible to all employ- 
ments and offices, were they to except from this 
equality the twelve hundred deputies who had been 
honored by the suffrages of a great people? Or 
was the mover convinced that the ministry and the 
Assembly ought to be divided and opposed to each 
other, that every measure likely to establish a closer 
connection, greater harmony and unity between 
them, ought to be avoided ; or was it thought that 
the king in the selection of his ministers ought to 
prefer his courtiers or those perhaps who had 
vainly sought the suffrages of the electors to the 
chosen representatives of his people? If the minis- 
ter in whom the nation had placed all its hopes, 
who had been recalled to power by an almost unan- 


imous outburst of popular feeling, had sat among 
them, was it maintained that this should have in- 
capacitated him from accepting office? I cannot 
believe it, for I cannot bring myself to believe that 
which is palpably absurd. Clearly, then, the in- 
tention of the mover must be something different. 
It might perhaps be expedient to prevent some in- 
dividual member from becoming minister; but 
great principles ought not to be sacrificed to obtain 
a particular end. I, therefore, propose, as an 
amendment, that the members of the Assembly, 
whom the mover must have in view, shall be ex- 
cluded from the ministry. These can be only two. 
The other representatives have given too many 
proofs of independence, courage and public spirit 
for it to be possible to suppose that they can be the 
object of his apprehension. But there are two rep- 
resentatives about whom he and I may speak our 
minds more freely, and certainly it would seem 
that his motion must be aimed at one or the other 
of these two. You must already, gentlemen, have 
guessed who they are, the mover himself and I. I 
mention him because it is possible that his diffident 
modesty or irresolute courage fears that some great 
mark of confidence may be thrust upon him, and 
that he trusts to secure a pretext for refusing it by 
this general disability. And next I say myself, be- 
cause certain rumors which have been spread about 
me may have excited the hopes of some and the 
fears of others, and it is possible that the mover 
may have believed these reports and that his esti- 
mate of me may be the same as my own ; in which 
case I am not surprised that he should think me 


little fitted to discharge the duties of an office which 
is indeed far above, not my zeal nor my courage, 
but my talents and my attainments ; especially if I 
am to be deprived of the instruction and the coun- 
sels which I have received in this Assembly. This, 
then, gentlemen, is the amendment I beg leave to 
move, that the proposed incapacity to hold office 
should apply only to Monsieur de Mirabeau, mem- 
ber for the Commons of Aix." 

This remarkable speech, or rather its outlines, 
we have taken from the pages of Willert, in his 
" Life of Mirabeau," and although not in full, it 
is choice English and gives a clear conception of 
the delicate irony and cutting sarcasm of the orig- 
inal. To enjoy the speech to its full measure, how- 
ever, one must read it in the mother tongue of the 

The amendment of M. Blin to the motion of 
Lanjuinais was carried amid applause. The 
friends of the court rejoiced, little thinking that 
they had put an obstacle in the way of the salvation 
of the monarchy, and the commons exulted be- 
cause they thought they had cut short the ambition 
of Mirabeau. Necker and La Fayette, no doubt, 
were specially pleased for the reason that a rival, 
whom they would not trust, could no longer vex 
them with his intrigues and projects. How little 
things may turn the whole course of a nation's 
history ! 

Mirabeau, defeated but not dismayed, still hoped 
he could be the means of saving the monarchy. It 
was not alone his ambition that controlled him in 
his efforts to reach the ministry, for Mirabeau 



loved France, loved her with all the devotion of his 
soul. He believed, too, that a monarchy was essen- 
tial to her existence and welfare. He had favored 
the Revolution because he knew that reforms in 
the government were a necessity, but the reforms 
having been accomplished, his purpose was now to 
secure them under a constitution that would re- 
strict the absolute and arbitrary power of the mon- 
arch, fix responsibility upon the ministers, and at 
the same time guarantee to the people liberty under 
the law and give them a voice in the imposition of 
taxes and the creation of loans. " I should regret," 
he said to the queen, " to have been instrumental 
only in effecting a vast destruction." 

La Marck was still his friend, and used all his in- 
fluence in trying to persuade the king and the queen 
to put their trust in Mirabeau. 

Rumors that the court was negotiating with 
Mirabeau were put in circulation in the early days 
of the Revolution. According to the Duchess 
d'Abrantes, the negotiations began shortly after the 
assembling of the States General. The following 
is related in her memoirs : " On the 7th of May, 
1789, the queen was informed of Mirabeau's hos- 
tile intentions. M. Necker was consulted about 
the expediency of entering into a negotiation with 
him, and his opinion was, that Mirabeau was pos- 
sessed of extraordinary talent, but wanted judg- 
ment, and M. Necker considered him not very 
formidable. He therefore declined to have any- 
thing to do with the matter, and merely yielded to 
the queen's wish to place at her disposal a sum of 
money to assist the execution of her designs. Fur- 



nished with his instructions and a well-stocked 
purse, the Count de Reb went one morning to 
Mirabeau, plied him with much art, and finally 
made him offers which he felt confident he would 
not hesitate to accept. But fate ordained that the 
man who had always been needy and tormented by 
creditors should be at that moment well supplied 
with money. What was the result? He rejected 
the Count de Reb's offer, and asked him for 
whom he took him. He thus dismisses the count 
with all the dignity of an ancient Greek, telling 
him that offers of money could not be listened to by 
him. The count, though chagrined, did not lose 
hope. He knew Mirabeau well enough, and was 
sure he would not remain long in his present frame 
of mind. Shortly afterwards a certain M. Jouvelet 
called on the Count de Reb, and announced to 
him that Mirabeau consented to place all his influ- 
ence at the disposal of the court, but required an 
honorable treaty and not a paltry bargain ; that he 
did not wish to supersede M. Necker, but that any 
other part of the ministry would suit him. On these 
terms he would devote himself to the court. The 
count, on hearing this, went to Mirabeau, was well 
received, and heard all the reasons he gave for his 
readiness to sacrifice himself by entering the minis- 
try at such a moment. The same day the count 
saw the individual who was to speak to the queen, 
and he, on the first intelligence of the capitulation 
of Mirabeau, for he was really a tower of strength, 
ran immediately to acquaint her Majesty with the 
news. The Count de Reb followed, and when 
he entered the royal cabinet the queen advanced 


towards him, her countenance beaming with pleas* 
ure. ' The king will be gratified by your zeal, 
Monsieur,' said she to the plenipotentiary : ' well, 
had you a good bargain of this man? How much 
has he cost ?' He replied that Mirabeau, with true 
magnanimity, had rejected all propositions of a pe- 
cuniary nature. He then mentioned the appoint- 
ment to the ministry. At this the queen reddened 
and then turned deadly pale. She closed her eyes, 
and striking her forehead with her hand, ex- 
claimed, ( A minister ! Make Riquetti Mirabeau a 
minister! Never, never will I allow the threshold 
of the king's council to be sullied by the footsteps 
of such a man !' She trembled with rage. ' Let 
him have money, grant him all he asks for, but to 
make him a minister ! Is it possible that my friends 
can give me this advice ?' She then paced the room 
with every mark of agitation, repeating the words, 
' A minister, forsooth ! a minister !' The negotia- 
tion was consequently broken off for a season, for 
Mirabeau would not accept money, and the queen 
would not, till long afterwards, consent to grant 
him an interview." 

When La Marck first suggested to the queen that 
Mirabeau might render efficient aid to the court, 
she replied, " We shall never, I hope, be reduced to 
such extremities as to be obliged to have recourse 
to Mirabeau." Although the queen was bitterly 
opposed to Mirabeau there were some persons near 
the throne who appreciated his worth and knew 
what his support would mean if his loyalty could 
be secured. They looked upon him as a Samson 
who could either pull down the pillars of the tem- 


pie or sustain them. The dealings of Mirabeau 
with the court are, of course, not clearly under- 
stood. The facts are involved in much doubt and 
uncertainty. From the very nature of things this 
must be so, for the negotiations were carried on 
secretly and with every precaution against discov- 
ery. It is stated that under the first agreement he 
made with the court he received a pension which 
was paid to him by Monsieur. He received an- 
other pension from Louis d'Aremberg, who was 
devoted to the queen. His friend La Marck also 
kept him well supplied with funds. 

.The pension paid by Monsieur was soon with- 
drawn. Mirabeau would not act upon the advice 
of men who knew so little of the real temper of 
the people. " If the court," he said, " desire to 
profit by my aid, they must depend upon my ad- 
vice." If their suggestions had been followed, his 
popularity would have been destroyed in a fort- 
night. It was this popularity " which was the very 
instrument of his success and which alone could 
render his services available." 

La Marck says that the day after Louis was set- 
tled in the Tuileries, Mirabeau urged him to tell 
the king and the queen that they would be ruined 
if they remained in Paris. " I am busy," said 
Mirabeau, " devising a plan to enable them to 
escape; could you convey to them the assurance 
that they can depend upon me?" With his usual 
foresight, he saw the terrors that were approach- 
ing, for he told La Marck that " given up to itself, 
Paris will, in three months, probably be a hos- 
pital and certainly a theatre of horrors." La 

22 337 


Marck told him to prepare his plan and that when 
it was completed, he would find some means of 
placing it in the hands of the king ; because of his 
rebuff in September, when he urged the queen to 
accept the services of Mirabeau, he did not think 
it prudent at this time to suggest the matter di- 
rectly to her. He told Mirabeau that he thought 
he could reach her in another way. 

The plan submitted by Mirabeau to La Marck 
was that the king must leave Paris, but he must 
not repair to Metz, nor any other town on the 
frontiers with the hope of re-establishing his 
authority by the aid of any foreign alliance. He 
should not ally himself with the nobles and stand 
in opposition to the people, nor should he oppose 
the Assembly and appeal to the country, for this 
would provoke a civil war. He declared that the 
Revolution was a necessity and that many of the 
laws passed by the Assembly must be accepted, and 
that the people must be assured that the king would 
favor the reforms already established and practise 
economy in the administration of the government. 
After the plan was submitted to Monsieur, La 
Marck spent hours in trying to prove to him that 
Mirabeau was not responsible for the events of 
the 5th and 6th of October. La Marck came away 
"with a sad heart, convinced that decision and 
firmness were not to be found in a quarter where 
they were indispensable." 

Count Mercy-d'Argenteau, who was the repre- 
sentative of the Austrian Court at Paris, was con- 
vinced that Mirabeau was the only man in France 
who could save the monarchy, and he strongly ad- 


vised taking him into the pay of the court, and, in 
time, placing him in the ministry. He, no doubt, 
imparted his views to the queen and aided ma- 
terially in inducing her ultimately to give Mira- 
beau an audience. 

Mirabeaa had but little, if any, respect for the 
king, but he had great admiration for the queen. 
" You do not know her," he said to Dumont; " she 
has prodigious strength of mind; she is the only 
man his Majesty has about him." He felt that if 
he could break down the barrier that separated 
them, he could gain her support and confidence, 
and his brain fairly seethed with plans for the sal- 
vation of France and the monarchy. But he had 
to overcome a woman's personal dislike and preju- 
dice; a proud woman, a queen who had been de- 
nounced, and, in her opinion, maligned by him in 
public. It requires great confidence and audacity 
in any man to attempt to win a woman whom he 
has insulted, and Mirabeau knew that to gain the 
queen's faith in his plans he must first induce her 
to believe that he was necessary to secure the safety 
of her throne. The Count Mercy-d'Argenteau 
and the Count de la Marck were the instruments 
he used in this connection. 

There was every reason why the queen should 
have feared to trust Mirabeau, for, from the very 
beginning, he had taken a most prominent part in 
opposing the court and defying the power of the 
crown. She believed that he was responsible, in 
a great measure, for the violence of the mob and 
the disorders that prevailed throughout the king- 
dom. Who, among all the revolutionists, had so 


insolently defied the king? Who had so relent- 
lessly persecuted her friend Besenval, and who had 
so cruelly held her up to public execration because 
of her malign influence over the king? She re- 
garded him as a traitor to his order, for he was 
patrician by birth and yet the most pronounced re- 
former in his principles. and utterances. From her 
position, she looked upon him as a mere dema- 
gogue and the most dangerous agitator among all 
her enemies ; but if she had been able to control 
her prejudices, to smother her personal antipathy, 
she would have found him to be the only man in the 
kingdom who had the power to stay the Revolution 
and to establish the throne on a substantial 
basis. To be sure, it would have been shorn 
of its absolutism and restricted by constitutional 
limitations, but as these reforms were inevitable, 
it would have been better to accept them than 
to lose both crown and life. If Mirabeau, as 
minister, could not have controlled events, then there 
was no man in France who could have saved the 

According to the best information to be ob- 
tained on the subject, it was in May, 1790, that 
Mirabeau entered into a definite treaty with the 
court. He was to receive a pension of six thou- 
sand francs per month, his debts were to be dis- 
charged, and promissory notes were to be given t< > 
him for one million francs. In consideration, he 
promised the King " loyalty, zeal, activity, energy, 
and a courage surpassing all that is probably ex- 
pected of him." He promised " everything except 
success, which one man cannot command when so 


terrible a fever undermines the state and en- 
dangers the monarch." 

It was a delicate undertaking he had in hand, 
and it required patience and wisdom to reach the 
desired results. The court wanted the matter to 
be speedily brought to a consummation and grew 
impatient at delay. Their impatience, no doubt, 
was due to the fact that they lacked confidence in 
his loyalty and integrity. And, admittedly, there 
were many reasons for this want of faith. Mira- 
beau had been most unscrupulous in many of his 
transactions in the past, especially in the matter of 
the publication of his Berlin letters, in which he 
showed an utter want of honor. Montmorin had 
been one of the parties to that negotiation and had 
been victimized by the treachery. 

On the 3d of July, 1790, Mirabeau had his first 
and only interview with the queen. Michelet says 
it was the end of May. It took place at St. Cloud, 
" in a very solitary spot at the highest point in the 
private park, in a kiosk that crowned that fairy 
garden." Mirabeau was wrought up to a high 
state of excitement in expectation of the meeting, 
for its importance and its consequences appealed to 
his imagination. " He found some happiness in feel- 
ing himself the supporter, the defender, perhaps 
the deliverer, of a handsome and captive queen." 
On the other hand, however, he feared the court 
might not play fair, and he took his nephew with 
him in his carriage, to stand on guard, with in- 
structions that if he remained, beyond a certain 
time, in the garden, the nephew was to hasten to 
Paris and give the alarm. What a tempest would 


have been stirred up if the nephew, growing im- 
patient and fearing mischief, had, by mistake, sped 
to Paris and given the alarm! How could Mira- 
beau have explained to the people the reasons for 
the interview? No excuse could have saved his 

Mirabeau feared assassination or kidnapping; 
he did not put implicit confidence in the queen's 
friends and he was too wise not to guard against 
surprise. He may have feared that the court would 
play a game that would ruin him in the estimation 
of the people. His fears, however, were merely 
imaginary. The queen was willing to meet him, 
although she had no idea of giving him her trust 
or confidence. The interview was short. She 
flattered him with a pleasing phrase and he vowed 
his loyalty. She expected to meet a monster and 
she was not disappointed, for she afterwards said 
that " the interview inspired her with horror and 
made her sick." She played her part, however, 
with consummate skill, for Mirabeau was greatly 
exalted and believed that he had made a deep 
impression. Her fair words deceived him and his 
vanity blinded him. 

The interview was vague and inconclusive. It 
was impossible for two such persons at the first 
meeting to do more than play for points. How 
could they understand each other? She was 
anxious to use him without giving him her confi- 
dence, and he was willing to serve her if he could 
thereby secure advancement. They were not only 
strangers, but had been bitter enemies. There was 
nothing to inspire confidence and create a recipro- 



cal loyalty. Their language was only well-turned 
phrases and gracious compliments. " With a foe 
of ordinary capacity," said the queen, " with an 
every-day enemy, I should now be guilty of a very 
foolish, a very injudicious step; but with a Mira- 

beau !" "Madame," he said, "when your 

august mother admitted one of her subjects to the 
honor of her presence, she never dismissed him 
without allowing him to kiss her hand." The 
queen extended hers. Mirabeau, having touched 
it with his lips, exclaimed, " Madame, the mon- 
archy is saved." " He withdrew affected, de- 
lighted, and deceived." 

Mirabeau was entirely sincere in his desire to 
help sustain the tottering throne, but the queen, 
while professing friendship, was quietly assuring 
her friends that although the court had consented 
to use Mirabeau, there was nothing serious in their 
connection with him. The queen's repulsion to 
Mirabeau could not be overcome, and when she 
took a dislike to any person she could not help but 
show her aversion. 

If the king and the queen had trusted to able 
counsellors, or if they themselves had been more 
politic, they could have called to their aid men 
who were not only able but who were willing to 
serve and save them. 

La Fayette, Bailly, and Mirabeau were all vain 
men, impressed with their own importance, and 
they could have been won by tact and good judg- 
ment to the cause of the crown. La Fayette, as the 
General of the National Guard ; Bailly, as the Chief 
Magistrate of Paris, and Mirabeau, as the leader of 


the Assembly, if they had been united in effort, 
could, without question, have saved the monarchy. 
They were all royalists at heart, that is, they 
favored a constitutional monarchy, and they were 
earnestly opposed to the growing spirit and in- 
creasing violence of the Revolution. But the per- 
sonal dislike of Louis for these men, and their 
distrust of each other, made it impossible to form 
a combination and needless even to attempt to use 
them jointly in an effort to save the crown; and 
yet these were the men, above all others, who 
could have saved it. The king had no wise ad- 
viser, no keen, shrewd political manager at his 
side; he trusted only the men of his own circle, 
whose suggestions were as weak or as unwise as 
his own. 

If the court later on in the Revolution had united 
La Fayette, Mirabeau, and Bouille, this, too, would 
have been an effective combination, for through 
them they would have had the National Guard, the 
Assembly, and the army. The union of these 
forces, if properly directed, could have mastered 
the situation. The court ought to have seen that 
the days of an absolute monarchy in France were 
numbered, and to save the throne it was necessary 
to concede, approve, and accept the reforms and 
unite all the conservative forces in favor of a con- 
stitutional monarchy, to establish it firmly on the 
new basis, and to restore public order at the earli- 
est possible moment. Every hour of delay only 
made it more difficult to recover lost ground. 






MIRABEAU, who in every effort he made evinced 
a sincerity to restore order and strengthen the mon- 
archy, began making overtures to Necker and to 
La Fayette, hoping through them to aid the court, 
but he signally failed in these endeavors. 

Necker's vanity and conceit led him to believe 
that he alone could save France, and yet he failed 
to discover the real causes of the Revolution, and 
consequently had no idea what remedies should be 
applied. He never got beyond the question of dis- 
ordered finances. He and La Fayette failed to see 
how Mirabeau could be of use to the throne ; they 
did not appreciate how great his talents were ; they 
feared him, and they measured him by his immoral- 
ity and not by his real worth as a statesman and a 

La Fayette loathed Mirabeau, and vauntingly 
exclaimed: " I have vanquished the king of Eng- 
land in his power, the king of France in his 
authority; I will certainly not yield the place to 
Mirabeau." And yet these two men, by skilful 
manipulation, notwithstanding their dislike for 
each other, could have been brought into confidence 
with the king, and no doubt could have succeeded 



in firmly establishing the monarchy ; but they were 
working at cross purposes. The clay was at hand, 
but there was no potter to mould it. . 

Mirabeau, in his efforts to aid the king, endeav- 
ored in every way to interest La Fayette, but in all 
the attempts he made he could never secure his 
confidence. At last, in utter despair, he wrote to 
him : " We live in a time of great events but little 
men. I am less able than ever to discover any one 
with whom I should care closely to associate my- 
self. ... I have always told you that the giddi- 
ness of your elevation and your fatal indecision in 
what concerns yourself blind you to the impossi- 
bility of perpetuating a state of things only to be 
justified by success. . . . Your liking for medioc- 
rities and your weakness when your inclinations are 
concerned will cause a career which might have 
been brilliant to end in failure and endanger the 
commonwealth by your ruin." 

" Mirabeau knew," says McCarthy, " that the 
chief obstacle to all his schemes lay in La Fayette, 
with whom he had tried, again and again, to come 
to an understanding, but always without success. 
He declared that La Fayette, all powerful for doing 
harm, must become more and more powerless to 
prevent harm." He tried flattery on the General, 
but it failed to win. " Your great qualities," said 
Mirabeau, " need to be animated by my energy, and 
my energy requires the support of your great quali- 
ties." La Fayette's dislike and fear of Mirabeau 
made him proof against all his appeals, cajolery, 
flattery, and schemes. Mirabeau's analysis of La- 
Fayette's qualities was that " he is not so great as 


singular; his character more fussy than actually 
strong: a generous man, but romantic and chi- 
meric, living in illusions." 

" Mirabeau, by airing his contempt," says Von 
Hoist, " of the general's political capacities, and by 
indulging in regard to him, too, in his dangerous 
taste for inventing nettling sobriquets, made it im- 
possible for La Fayette to accept in thorough good 
faith the proffered alliance." " Upon La Fayette, 
however, rests by far the greater half of the respon- 
sibility that this alliance was not concluded, which 
might have changed the fate of France." 

Mirabeau always felt that if the state had a 
pilot, the storm could be weathered ; and he firmly 
believed if he were at the helm he could guide the 
vessel. " The monarchy," he said, " is imperilled. 
If no pilot is found, it is likely enough that the 
vessel may drive on to the rocks ; but if, in spite of 
prejudice and jealousy, a man of capacity were 
called to the helm, you can have little idea how 
easy it would be to steer into deep water." 

It seemed strange and unaccountable to Mira- 
beau that these men to whom he appealed would 
not partake of his enthusiasm, adopt his plans, and 
join with him in an effort to save that which they 
themselves were anxious to save. To him the 
project was so plain and so easy of accomplish- 
ment that he marvelled at their density. He had 
the vision and the intellect of the statesman and 
saw clearly what should be done; he had the abil- 
ity of the politician and knew how to accomplish 
his ends. 

The court also bitterly opposed Mirabeau and 



did all in its power to prevent an alliance with the 
king ; so he had to fight his battle alone, and found 
his worst enemies among those whose cause he was 
really serving. 

Mirabeau advised the king and the queen from 
time to time, but it was useless, under all the con- 
ditions, even to hope that anything could be accom- 
plished from such a union. There was at all times 
a distrust where there should have been an im- 
plicit confidence. In a business so delicate, if 
success were desired, there should have been unity 
of faith, of action, and of purpose. 

Mirabeau had also tried to reach the court 
through the Count of Provence, but his efforts in 
this direction were a blank failure. The count was 
almost as weak in character as his brother, the 
king. " He has," wrote Mirabeau, " the timidity 
as well as the innocence of a child." It was a 
game that required stout players, and the court 
furnished only mannikins. " What blind groping, 
what pusillanimous acquiescence on the part of the 
court, what a grotesque mixture of old ideas and 
new projects, of petty repugnances and childish 
longings, of willing and nilling, of abortive likes 
and dislikes! . . . But the lowest depth of all is 

The court paid Mirabeau to secure him, without 
ever intending to depend upon him or take his 
advice. They acted at times as if they would 
rather be lost than saved by him. In fact, at a 
later period in the Revolution, when La Fayette 
could have quelled the rioters, terrorized the Jaco- 
bins, and strengthened the throne, Marie Antoi- 


nette indignantly refused the General's aid and 
declared with emphasis that she would rather 
perish than be rescued by him. She, no doubt, 
was controlled by this same spirit in the case of 
Mirabeau. She could not, even in the presence of 
imminent danger, overcome her prejudices. 

The king drifted along on the current of events, 
had no real appreciation of the dangers that beset 
him, and trusted blindly to the future to bring 
relief ; hoping that time would evolve, without any 
effort upon his part, a condition or reaction that 
would once more firmly establish his throne. He 
believed that the Revolution was but a passing 
frenzy, that it would necessarily wear itself out, 
and that the country would return to its normal 
condition, and he simply sat with his arms folded 
waiting for the change. He was always dreading 
a civil war, and yet he was in the midst of a revo- 
lution that was worse and more dangerous to him 
than any civil war could possibly have been. 
Giving advice to such a man was sheer waste of 
time, and Mirabeau, whose knowledge of men was 
profound, abandoned all hope in that direction. 
When he turned to the queen, however, he firmly 
believed that with her assistance and influence the 
monarchy could be saved, but we have seen with 
what mistrust and repugnance she received him. 

Mirabeau had a delicate task to perform; he 
was under pay to serve the court, and in order to 
be useful to it he had to maintain his popularity. 
He was serving royalty and revolution at the same 
time. " More honesty and less cleverness, Mira- 
beau, or beware of the lantern," wrote Freron in 



his Friend of the People. It was a most diffi- 
cult and at the same time a most dangerous role 
to play for a man so impulsive, independent, and 
positive as Mirabeau. He was serving two masters, 
and he had to preserve most carefully his equilib- 
rium. He was anxious to save both royalty and 

Madame de Stael, who personally disliked Mira- 
beau, but who had a great admiration for his 
talents, wrote : " One could not help having pity 
with the constraint imposed upon his natural 
superiority. Constantly he was compelled in the 
same speech to act as partisan of popularity and 
reason. He tried to wrest from the Assembly with 
demagogical phrases a monarchial decree, and he 
often let the Royalists feel his bitterness, even when 
he wanted to carry one of their points; in one 
word, it was evident that he had constantly to 
combat between his judgment and the necessity of 
success." " He is compelled," said Count Fersen, 
" to hide himself under the forms of democracy in 
order not to lose all his influence." 

It was generally believed that Mirabeau was the 
pensioner of the king, and he really took no pains 
to divert the suspicions ; in fact, so great a change 
in his manner of living had taken place that it 
aroused comment in every quarter, and his enemies 
lost no opportunity to injure him by circulating 
reports of his sumptuous living. He kept open 
house in the Chaussee d'Autin, and was in touch 
with the most distinguished men of the nation, not 
forgetting to caress at the same time the leaders of 
the mob. 



" Are you sold to the court?" asks Desmoulins. 
" Come dine with me," says Mirabeau, " and we 
shall talk about it." It is not hard to imagine how 
easily the great tribune removed all suspicion from 
the mind of his young friend. Desmoulins admits 
that he is corrupted by Mirabeau's table, which is 
too profuse and too dainty. " His Bordeaux wine 
and maraschino have merits which I vainly try to 
disguise from myself, and I find it very difficult to 
resume my republican austerity and to detest aris- 
tocrats whose crime is to set store by these excellent 

Mirabeau's entertainments were on a most lavish 
scale, and he was most ostentatious in the display 
of his newly acquired wealth. " A tribune of the 
people becoming a Lucullus could not fail to render 
him an object of distrust." He squandered money 
in the purchase of costly plate, gems, books, rare 
engravings, and the choicest brands of wine. His 
library sold, after his death, for 140,000 livres 

At the beginning of the Revolution he was a 
poor man, but now he indulged in every luxury. 
His blue carriage, driven rapidly through the 
streets, was one of the noticeable features of the 
capital and attracted as much attention as the 
white horse of La Fayette. 

He insisted upon further royal contributions, as 
he was desirous of purchasing La Marais, a sump- 
tuous country-seat located a short distance from 
Paris. La Marck protested against a prodigality 
so foolish, and at the same time urged Mirabeau 
not to advertise in this way his venality. " It 


would be wiser/' he said, " for you to buy Ver- 
sailles a year hence than a cottage now." But 
Mirabeau's desires were greater than his fears and 
he insisted upon a further allowance. La Marck 
pleaded earnestly with him to moderate his style of 
living so as not to attract attention, but Mirabeau 
only smiled at his friend's fears and admonitions. 

The queen's almoner, M. de Fontanges, Arch- 
bishop of Narbonne and a member of the Assembly, 
was the medium of communication between the 
court and Mirabeau. The Bishop was careful to 
take every precaution to prevent discovery, and 
Mirabeau's imprudence caused him much annoy- 
ance. The court, too, lost confidence in a man who 
displayed an indiscretion so foolish and dangerous. 

It was as early as May, 1790, that rumors of his 
venality were published, and while on his way to 
the Assembly, hawkers were inducing the sale of a 
pamphlet in the streets by shouting: "The dis- 
closure of the great treason of the Count of Mira- 
beau !" But his presence of mind never left him ; 
he thundered as usual from the tribune, and in no 
word he ever uttered did he give his enemies an 
opportunity to doubt or impugn his loyalty to the 
Revolution. Nor did he at any time change his 
views ; he was consistent in advocating with all his 
might, and under all circumstances, the principles 
for which he had contended from the very begin- 
ning. He was anxious to save the monarchy, but 
only under condition that the reforms of the Revo- 
lution should be secured. 

" A few days ago," he said in his speech favoring 
the, right of the king to declare war, " the people 


sought to carry me in triumph, now they charge 
me with treason. It needed not this lesson to teach 
me how short the distance is from the Capitol to 
the Tarpeian Rock. But he who rights for reason 
and for his country is not so easily intimidated. 
Such blows aimed at me from below cannot stop 
me. To such assailants, I reply : ' First answer 
me, if you can, then calumniate me as much as you 
please.' ' 

It was, no doubt, owing to the fact that he 
had not deserted nor betrayed his principles that 
he was willing to become the pensioner of the 
court; from his point of view, he was not guilty 
of treason nor venality, for he was only aiding 
that cause which, at the beginning, he had so 
ardently espoused. He was employed by the court 
to do that which he himself desired to see accom- 

" It may be admitted," says Dumont, " that he 
was not over-scrupulous in money matters, but he 
was too proud to be dishonest, and he would have 
thrown out of the window any one who dared to 
make him a humiliating proposal." 

" He cared no more for money," says Von 
Hoist, " than the dirt under his feet. He never 
even felt so much as tempted to stoop to means, by 
which he would have lowered himself in his own 
eyes." If it were money he wanted, and was will- 
ing to take it at any cost to himself, " it needed but 
a word/' says McCarthy, " to win the unscrupulous 
stock-jobbers who had held aloof while Necker 
was making despairing appeals to the nation. 
They would have bought up the orator at well-nigh 
23 353 


any price that it might please his vanity to set upon 
his periods, his phrases, and his passion." 

La Marck said that when Mirabeau was in 
financial distress, " he would only have needed to 
let the gold come to him, which the factions scat- 
tered about in profusion," but not a sou of it ever 
soiled his fingers. " Mirabeau would not be 

" I am sold, but not paid," said Rivarol. 

" I am paid, but not sold," responded Mirabeau. 

La Fayette, who surely was no friend of Mira- 
beau, was fair and just enough to declare that 
" he was not inaccessible to money, but for no 
sum would he have sustained an opinion destruc- 
tive to liberty or dishonorable to his mind." It 
was known to his bitterest enemies, to all France, 
that he favored the monarchy, but with constitu- 
tional restrictions. From this position he never 
retreated for a moment, nor was he ever paid nor 
bribed to abandon those principles which he had so 
consistently advocated and defended. 

He received a pension from Monsieur, and sub- 
sequently one from the king, " but he considered 
himself an agent entrusted with their affairs and he 
accepted these pensions, not to be governed by, 
but to govern those who granted them." 

The fact that Mirabeau, for a long time, was the 
secret adviser of the court goes without saying. 
The documentary evidence on this point is conclu- 
sive. That he received money from the king is also 
admitted, but that he was bribed to betray his 
cause or desert his principles was denied by those 
contemporaries who knew him well, and an intima- 



tion of such a thing would have been vehemently 
resented by Mirabeau himself. 

He was so bitterly assailed on charges of 
venality, that he wrote in a vein of felicitous irony : 
" Since I have been in the habit of selling myself 
I ought to have acquired sufficient gold to have 
purchased a kingdom, but I know not how it hap- 
pens that I have always been poor, having at my 
command so many kings and all their treasures." 

In passing an opinion upon this matter we must 
be guided in our judgment by the standard of his 
period and the conditions under which he was 

In his day it was not considered beneath the 
dignity of any one to accept a gift or pension from 
the king. The proudest in the land, for the 
lightest service, did not hesitate to accept such 
a bounty. " Mirabeau took money of the king," 
says McCarthy, " because he was a loyal and 
avowed supporter of the monarchy. No serious 
student of the career of Mirabeau, putting himself 
with any vitality into the place of the man, and 
the time of the man, need feel in any degree called 
upon to avow shame for him." Mirabeau did not 
surrender his principles, he did not betray his 
cause. He thought the Revolution had gone far 
enough and he feared its violence. He did not 
submit to be governed by those who paid the 
money, in truth, they were to be directed, advised 
and controlled by him. He was anxious and at all 
times had been willing to save the monarchy. He 
had favored the abolition of its abuses, but never 
its destruction. " It was no new thought of Mira- 


beau's to turn to the king." He was convinced, 
using his own language, that " the restoration of 
the legitimate authority of the king was the first 
need of France, and the only means to save her." 

" He declared his principles," says Thiers, " in 
a kind of profession of faith ; he engaged not to 
swerve from them and to support the court so long 
as it should follow the same line. But was this 
selling himself? A weak man would, no doubt, 
have sold himself by sacrificing his principles ; but 
the mighty Mirabeau, so far from sacrificing his, 
brought power over to the court and received from 
it that aid which his urgent necessities and his 
licentious passions rendered indispensable to him. 
Mirabeau, inflexible in his principles, combated 
by turns his own party and the court, as if he had 
not expected popularity from the former or the 
means of existence from the latter." 

" Mercy-d'Argenteau, the Austrian Ambassador, 
and La Marck," writes Von Hoist, in considering 
this question of Mirabeau's venality, " were men 
not only of spotless, but of most scrupulous honor, 
and while they were perfectly familiar with the 
laxity of Mirabeau's moral principles in money 
and other questions, the thought never entered 
their heads that the fact of his taking money from 
Louis XVI. could, in the opinion of any one, throw 
the slightest reflection upon him. Nor were they 
altogether wrong, even if he be weighed on the 
more sensitive scales of our times, for he was paid 
for work done and services rendered." 

He received money to aid a cause which he 
had espoused, long before the payment of money 


or the giving of a pension had been suggested. 
He was employed to help save that kingdom which 
he had never desired to destroy. 

" To abandon them (the king and the kingdom) 
to their fate," writes Von Hoist, " would certainly 
not have been patriotic, and I suppose that the 
moralists who, with the zest of holy monks burn- 
ing a heretic, have nailed his memory to the pillory 
for taking this money, will admit that patriotism 
ought also to be an article in a statesman's code of 

" If Mirabeau consented to be the secret adviser 
of the court, for the sake of earning the money, his 
vindication can, of course, not be based upon the 
plea of patriotism. It can, however, be proved 
beyond the possibility of contradiction that the 
salary he received was but an incident and not his 

One of the questions that gave him an oppor- 
tunity to prove his loyalty to the crown was that 
concerning the right of declaring war. 

He argued in favor of the resolution, placing 
the power in the hands of the executive. Barnave, 
Lameth, and Robespierre insisted upon leaving it 
to the Assembly. The final decree conferred the 
right upon the Assembly, but only on the initiative 
of the king and subject to his sanction. It was 
this compromise that Mirabeau, after a stubborn 
fight, secured. It proved his fidelity to the crown, 
but it, on the other hand, laid him open to the 
censure of the radicals. 

Mirabeau, during the summer of 1790, con- 
stantly, day after day, urged the king to adopt a 


plan that would release him from his imprison- 
ment in the Tuileries. He suggested that Louis 
should go to Fontainebleau, that he should demand 
from La Fayette assistance and protection, if neces- 
sary, to enable him to make the visit, and if the 
general should refuse, it would prove that he was 
the gaoler of the king. 

Mirabeau, upon one occasion, said to the queen 
that " if La Fayette is ever head of the army, he 
will hold the king a prisoner in his tent." Mira- 
beau did not believe that La Fayette at this time 
would be willing to have the provinces know that 
Louis was virtually held in custody. But Louis 
would not act. He feared violence and persisted in 
a policy of inaction, or what was worse, a course 
of vacillation. Mirabeau wanted the country to 
see that the king was either independent or a 
prisoner. It seemed impossible, however, to get 
the king to agree to anything. He had no cour- 
age of decision. " He encouraged every anti-revo- 
lutionary enterprise, but avowed none." 

The truth was, if we may judge from his con- 
duct, that Louis never did intend to accept the 
results of the Revolution any more than did the 
queen. To them it was a monster that had stripped 
them of their power, and despoiled both church 
and state. It kept them in captivity and subjected 
them to insult and derision. It had sat uncovered 
in the presence of the king. It had insolently 
defied him when he ordered the Assembly to dis- 
perse. It had made him play the craven when he 
submitted to the pinning of the tri-color on his hat. 
It had stormed the royal palace, chased the queen 


from her bed-chamber, and compelled her to bow 
in humiliation before the rabble that a moment 
prior had sought her life. It had carried the 
king from Versailles to Paris, to grace the tri- 
umphal procession of the mob, and lodged him as 
a prisoner within the walls of the Tuileries. It 
held him as a hostage for the good behavior of the 
emigrants. It stationed sentinels at the door of 
his chamber lest he might escape. It had shot 
down his guards, captured his fortress, looted his 
palace, and dispersed his friends. It had hum- 
bled his pride in the face of all the courts of 
Europe and made him, because of his weakness, 
an object not of sympathy, but of ridicule and 
contempt. The pride of a haughty queen and the 
spirit of a weak king had been humbled, and they 
longed for the day when they could avenge the 
wrongs they had suffered. 

Louis believed in his divine right to govern, and 
the rabble had usurped his power. " Kings," said 
Catharine II. of Russia, " ought to proceed in 
their career undisturbed by the cries of the people, 
as the moon pursues her course unimpeded by the 
howling of dogs." 

The education of Louis, his early surroundings, 
and associations had taught him that he was abso- 
lute, and how could he reconcile himself to exist- 
ing conditions which were in direct contradiction 
to the experience and teachings of his house ? He 
was a Bourbon with a good memory, and he did 
not acquire knowledge readily. He could not for- 
get the past and he could not adapt himself to 
the present. He never was sincere in any promise 


he made, nor oath he took, to accept or support 
the principles of the Revolution. Even when he 
voluntarily accepted the constitution, he was plot- 
ting to escape. His only hope of safety was to 
flee from the kingdom, or else be rescued by a 
foreign army. He was anxious to save his crown, 
but he wanted to save it without putting himself 
under obligations to those who had threatened its 
loss. That was wholly natural, but under the cir- 
cumstances not wise, for a combination with his 
enemies was the only method of salvation left to 

As time ran on, the Revolution was making 
steady progress and there were no signs of any 
reaction setting in. 

While Mirabeau was struggling hard to recon- 
struct the monarchy, busy hands were laying the 
foundation stones of the republic. Civil rights 
were secured, religious tolerance was decreed, dis- 
tinctions were removed, titles were abolished, tax- 
ation was equalized, trial by jury was introduced, 
and inhuman penal statutes were repealed. It was 
hard to induce a French monarch to accept such 
reforms and reconcile himself to such conditions. 





DURING the period, in which negotiations were 
pending between Mirabeau and the court, an in- 
cident happened that for a time put an end to all 
their plans and agreements. 

The Marquis de Favras was a light-headed, 
light-hearted courtier, and a devoted royalist. On 
the 5th of October, 1789, at Versailles, he was the 
bold spirit that urged the nobles to mount the 
horses in the royal stables and charge the mob. 
He had conceived a counter-revolutionary project 
and, with more courage than prudence, boasted of 
his plans. Spies were sent to watch his move- 
ments and listen to his " vaporings." His ex- 
travagance having reduced him to indigence, he 
was just the sort of a man, in those stirring times, 
that was ready for a desperate enterprise, and one 
whom the people could readily suspect of being 
concerned in anti-revolutionary designs. He was 
arrested, charged with having plotted to raise a 
royalist army, to murder La Fayette, Necker, and 
Bailly, abduct the king, and place the Count of 
Provence on the throne. It seems almost incredi- 
ble that a project so important and so far reach- 
ing in its consequences would have been left to 
the skill and management of so wild a rhapsodist. 


It was currently reported that the conspirators 
were numerous; that their plans were well laid, 
and that the blow was ready to be struck. Paris 
was thrown into a whirl of excitement in expecta- 
tion of startling disclosures and developments. 

The case came on for trial in the Court of the 
Chatelet and De Favras was convicted of treason 
and sentenced to death on the i8th of February, 
1790. He was given short shrift, for the people 
clamored for his speedy execution, lest delay might 
give an opportunity to the conspirators to consum- 
mate the plot. He was hanged in the Place de 
Greve after nightfall, under the glare of torches. 
It was a grewsome sight. "Bon!" grimly re- 
marked the Count de Rochechouart, " voila un 
noble pendu ! pendez-en cinq ou six par mois, mais 
laissez tes autres tranquilles." 

If Favras had any accomplices, he died without 
revealing their names. He protested his innocence 
to the last. The facts in the case will never be 
fully known. It was admitted that he had some 
secret correspondence with the Count of Provence, 
but that it was of a personal character, and had 
no political significance whatever. The count, it. 
was intimated, was in need of two millions an.l 
had retained the services of Favras to negotiate the 
loan. It does seem hard to believe that a man 
like Favras, whose entire wealth consisted of a 
hundred roubles, and whom the count said he 
had never seen, should have been engaged in such 

Mirabeau was accused of having been a party to 
the plot, but treated the accusation with his usual 


disdain. He was called as a witness in the trial 
and denied any acquaintance with Favras. He 
admitted that he had met him several times, but 
always in the presence of others. When Favras 
asked him if they had not discussed a proposed 
plan to aid the Revolution in Brabant, Mirabeau 
answered that he could not recall any such con- 
versation. Favras urged the question and begged 
Mirabeau to sift his memory, but the latter em- 
phatically stated that he had no recollection of 
such an interview. Favras did not in any way, 
however, attempt to implicate Mirabeau in the 
alleged conspiracy of assassination and abduction. 

There is now in existence a letter written by 
Provence that gives the details of such a con- 
spiracy, but whether Favras had anything to do 
with it cannot be proved. If he were concerned 
in such a plot, he was faithful to his friends and 
displayed a courage of the highest type. He went 
to his death like a gentleman, " with politest com- 
posure." A messenger hurried from the scaffold, 
after the execution, to the palace of the Count of 
Provence to inform him that it was all over and 
that no confessions had been made. " That is all 
right," said Provence, " let us now sit down to 

If there really was such a conspiracy afoot the 
facts were most successfully suppressed, but the 
episode cast a suspicion on many men and among 
them was Mirabeau, although, strange to say, he 
soon recovered his unbounded popularity. He 
treated the whole matter with so supreme an in- 
difference that even his enemies were convinced 


of his innocence, " de 1'audace ! Encore de 1'au- 
dace! et tou jours, de 1'audace!" 

That Mirabeau was in the pay of Provence was 
confirmed by Dumont. Talleyrand, many years 
afterwards, while at a dinner party in London, 
told Lord Greville that he had seen a receipt given 
by Mirabeau to Provence for one million francs, 
but the bishop was so habitual a liar that no confi- 
dence can be placed in any uncorroborated state- 
ment he ever made. 

Dumont says " the secret of this intrigue was 
never known, but I have no doubt Favras was 
one of those men who, when employed as instru- 
ments, are led by vanity much further than their 
principles intend, . . . and spurred on by the 
fatal ambition of embracing objects beyond their 
reach, are at last betrayed by their own activity. 
... As for Mirabeau, he bestowed a thousand 
curses upon the shuffling courtiers, those moun- 
tebank conspirators who confided the restoration 
of the monarchy to the exertions of a ruined 
gamester ; but the praises he bestowed upon the 
intrepidity of Favras made me shrewdly suspect 
that the death of the latter was not less consola- 
tory to his friends than to his enemies." 

Necker's plans, schemes, and dreams had come to 
naught. Neither loans nor patriotic contributions 
were sufficient to meet the expenses of the govern- 
ment and decrease the deficit. Taxes had been re- 
duced and equalized, the odious taxes, such as the 
gabelle, hnd been abolished. In consequence, the 
revenue had fallen off to such a degree that it was 


insufficient to meet current expenses and to pay the 
interest on the loans; the public debt was increas- 
ing annually. Something had to be done to relieve 
the financial distress and stringency. The state 
was facing bankruptcy. Specie was scarce; much 
of it had been carried out of the kingdom by the 
emigrants and much of it was being hoarded by 
the timid and by those persons who dreaded the 
future of the Revolution. The money in circula- 
tion was not sufficient for the purposes of trade 
and commerce. Capital, too, had grown timid and 
had withdrawn from enterprise as it always will 
in times of confusion and uncertainty. 

The clergy had accumulated immense wealth; 
they owned one-fifth of all the lands of the king- 
dom, and it was proposed that this property should 
be seized by the state and appropriated to the pub- 
lic use. The confiscation of the church property 
was one of the most important acts of the Assem- 
bly, and it resulted in arraying the clergy with all 
their power and influence against the further 
progress of the Revolution. Religious toleration 
had been proclaimed by the Assembly, and now 
that same body had confiscated the property of the 
church. The faithful were up in arms. The 
throne had been deprived of its privileges and 
the church despoiled of its wealth. There was 
nothing left to do but to unite the forces of both 
to save both. 

Louis was set up as the Defender of the Faith 

and " nothing was easier to the priests," says 

Michelet, " than to make Louis XVI. appear in 

the light of a saint or a martyr. His sanctified, 



paternal, and heavy-looking countenance was that 
of a cathedral saint, ready-made for a church 

Fromont, in his memoirs, says : "I repaired 
secretly to Turin (January, 1790) to the French 
princes to solicit their approbation and support. 
In a council, which was held on my arrival, I 
demonstrated to them that if they would arm the 
partisans of the altar and the throne, and make 
the interests of religion go hand in hand with 
those of royalty, it would be easy to save both. 
Though strongly attached to the faith of my fore- 
fathers, it was not upon the non-Catholics that I 
proposed to make war, but upon the declared foes 
of Catholicism and royalty ; upon those who loudly 
asserted that Jesus Christ and the Bourbons had 
been talked of too long; upon those who wished 
to strangle the last of kings with the intestines of 
the last of priests. 

" The real arguments of the Revolution being 
force, I felt that the answer must be force. Then, 
as at present, I was convinced of this great truth, 
that religious zeal alone can stifle the republican 
mania." 1 

After the confiscation of the church property, a 
crusade was begun at once, and ardent appeals 
were made to the faithful from the pulpit and in 
the confessional, to rally to the standard of the 
cross and the crown, and to stay the hands of the 
impious from despoiling and destroying the church 
and the throne. So bitter was the hostility that 
the worst passions of the human heart were 
aroused and, in time, religious wars were waged 


in Avignon, La Vendee, and Brittany, until the 
streets of the towns ran blood. The butcheries of 
the " White Terror" rivalled those of the dread- 
ful days yet to come when the " Red Terror" was 
to outrage every sentiment of humanity. 

The original motion to confiscate the property 
of the church was made in the Assembly by Talley- 
rand, the Archbishop of Autun, who, for his " im- 
pious act," was subsequently excommunicated by 
the pope. Talleyrand was ably seconded and sup- 
ported by Mirabeau. They proposed the confisca- 
tion and sale of the church property for the pay- 
ment of the public debt, and out of the proceeds of 
the sale, the clergy were to be paid a fixed amount 
for their salaries, the support of the church, and 
the relief of the poor. The cures were to be 
allowed not less than twelve hundred livres, not 
including therein a dwelling and a garden. This 
was a cunning device to win the support of the 
humble clergy. The measure was carried by a 
majority of one hundred and twenty-two on a total 
vote of nine hundred and fourteen. 

The Assembly, after the act of confiscation, had 
a difficult task to decide what disposition should 
be made of the property to relieve the public exi- 
gencies. To offer it all for sale at once would 
greatly depreciate its value; to put so great a 
quantity of land on the market at one time would 
be to sacrifice it. Bailly suggested that it should 
be sold to the municipalities, and that they should 
be given time to dispose of it gradually. The 
municipalities, not having ready funds to pay for 
the property, were to give bills payable at a certain 


date. The credit given these notes would insure 
their circulation as money. This was the first idea 
of the assignat. 

Crown and church property was put upon the 
market to the value of nearly four hundred and 
fifty million francs (ninety million dollars), and 
paper money was issued to the same amount. 
This paper money was called assignats, and the 
notes at first ranged in amount from one thousand 
to two thousand livres. The confiscated lands were 
to be held and sold for the redemption of said paper 
money and it was the original intention that the 
amount of issue should never be beyond the actual 
market value of the land. In fact, Mirabeau 
favored a decree that there should never be more 
than twelve hundred million livres (two hundred 
and forty million dollars) of assignats in circula- 
tion at one time. The notes were to bear interest 
and the holders could purchase with them the lands 
that had been confiscated by the state; when so 
converted, the notes were to be destroyed. They 
were also made a legal tender for all purposes. It 
was thought that the church property would yield 
seventy million livres (fourteen million dollars) 
annually and this at thirty-three years' purchase 
would produce a total sum of two billion three 
hundred and ten millions of livres (four hundred 
and sixty-two million dollars). 

The church property was not all land, much of 
it was state paper, debts, mortgages, and assets of 
like character. 

The lands did not sell readily; people delayed 
buying them, hoping they would fall in value. 


The first instalment gave possession and the specu- 
lative owners straightway cut the timber and har- 
vested the crops, and when the second payment fell 
due, made default. 

Mirabeau at first opposed the issuance of paper 
money, which, in his characteristic way, he desig- 
nated " a walking pestilence." He was subse- 
quently, however, won over to the scheme by the 
argument and reasons of his friend Claviere, in 
whose judgment and financial ability he had great 
confidence. At the time of the debate on the 
second issuance of assignats, he made a most elo- 
quent argument, claiming that the exigencies of 
the state demanded immediate relief, and that this 
was the only practicable plan; and if the plan had 
followed his suggestions, it would not have ended 
so disastrously. 

The Abbe Maury, in his reply to Mirabeau, 
dramatically held up two notes of the John Law 
issue, " stained with the tears and the blood of 
an earlier generation," and eloquently pictured the 
dreadful distress in the reign of Louis XV. that 
followed the period of paper money and frenzied 
speculation. He eloquently urged the Assembly 
to consider carefully the step they were about to 
take. But his appeal was of no avail ; he was inter- 
rupted by the jeers and the laughter of the depu- 
ties and the gallery. Vainly he argued that the 
assignats were but paper promises ; that they were 
based on the value of land which had to be sold 
before the notes could be redeemed ; that the value 
of these notes, in consequence, was uncertain and 
that the doubt as to their real value would cause 
24 369 


them to depreciate ; that the issuance of this paper 
money, in large quantities, would dangerously ex- 
pand the volume of currency, lead to extravagance, 
speculation, over-production, and ultimately to re- 
pudiation and bankruptcy; that the lessons of 
history should warn the Assembly against the adop- 
tion of a financial system that, in time, would im- 
poverish France. 

The principle of the assignats was all right, pro- 
vided the government had a value in the lands or 
the property confiscated that was sufficient to re- 
deem the notes, but, of course, if the government 
issued more notes than it could redeem, or made 
promises that it could not keep, public confidence 
would be lost, and the whole scheme would fall 
to pieces. 

The exigencies of the government had to be re- 
lieved, its credit had to be saved, and this was the 
only plan that was in any way practicable. It 
warded off impending bankruptcy and, indeed, 
might have afforded permanent relief, if its original 
design had been adhered to and carried out. But 
the issues from time to time were so vast that at 
last the amount reached the enormous sum of 
forty-five billion francs (nine billion dollars). 
The notes were easily counterfeited, and the gov- 
ernment took no stringent measures to prosecute 
the counterfeiters. Gradually every limitation was 
withdrawn from the issuance of new series and, 
whenever the government needs were urgent, the 
printing press was put to work as if there never 
was to be a day of reckoning. The assignat, which 
was to be redeemed by the funds resulting from 


the public sale of the state lands, was subsequently 
supplanted by the mandat, which empowered the 
holder to take immediate possession of the land 
in payment of his note, if he so desired. In other 
words, the mandat was a direct lien on the real 
estate of the Republic. But over-issues soon again 
flooded the market with a fluctuating paper cur- 
rency. The notes in time became almost worth- 
less, and in 1796 they were withdrawn from 





IN order to stay the Revolution, the clergy and 
the nobility endeavored to secure new elections in 
the districts, contending that the period allotted to 
the deputies of the States General had expired, 
their power having been limited to one year accord- 
ing to the desire of the districts. On the other 
hand, it was argued that the sessions of the Assem- 
bly could not come to an end at this time, in view 
of the fact that the deputies had taken an oath in 
the Tennis Court on the 2Oth of June, 1789, not 
to separate until they had given a constitution to 
the nation. " The court was expecting and watch- 
ing for the moment of dissolution, the inter- 
regnum, the ever-perilous moment between the 
Assembly that exists no longer and the one not yet 
formed. Who was to reign in the interval but 
the king? And having once resumed his power 
and seized the sword, it would be his business to 
keep it." 

Chapelier argued for the commons in an eloquent 

speech, in which he declared that " all sovereignty 

rests with the people, but this principle has no 

application to the present case; it would be destroy- 

constitution and liberty to renew the Assembly 

before the constitution is completed. This is in- 



deed the hope of those who wish to see liberty 
and the constitution perish, and to witness the re- 
turn of the distinction of orders, of prodigality in 
the public expenditures, and of the abuses that 
spring from despotism. The constitution can only 
be made by one Assembly. Besides, the former 
electors no longer exist; the bailiwicks are used 
in the departments, the orders are no longer sepa- 
rate. The clause respecting the limitation of power 
is consequently without value; it will, therefore, 
be contrary to the constitution if the deputies do 
not retain their seats in this Assembly; their oath 
commands them to continue there, and public in- 
terest requires it." This argument was a clear 
example of begging the question and was based 
on expediency rather than on principle, and the 
real facts and the law of the case. 

"You entangle us in sophisms," replied the Abbe 
Maury. " How long have we been a National 
Convention ? You talk of the oath we took on the 
2Oth of June without considering that it cannot 
weaken that which we made to our constituents. 
Besides, gentlemen, the constitution is completed. 
You have only now to declare that the king enjoys 
the plentitude of the executive power. We are here 
for the sole purpose of securing to the French na- 
tion the right of influencing its legislation, of 
establishing the principle that taxation shall be 
consented to by the people, and of securing our 
liberty. Yes, the constitution is made, and I will 
oppose every decree calculated to limit the rights 
of the people over their representatives. The 
founders of liberty ought to respect the liberty of 


the nation; the nation is above us all and we 
destroy our authority by limiting the national 
authority." To this clear, logical, and unanswer- 
able argument, Mirabeau ascended the tribune to 
make reply. The facts were against him, but the 
commons were with him. 

" It is asked," he said in his most dramatic 
manner, " how long the deputies of the people have 
been a National Convention? I answer, from the 
day when, finding the door of their session-house 
surrounded by soldiers, their place of meeting 
bristling and defiled with bayonets, they went and 
assembled where they could, and swore to perish 
rather than betray or abandon the rights of the 
nation. Whatever our powers were that day, their 
nature was changed, and whatever powers we may 
have exercised, our efforts and labors have ren- 
dered them legitimate, and the adhesion of the 
nation has sanctioned them. Let them now go and 
hunt out of the useless nomenclature of civilians 
the definition of the words National Convention! 
You all remember the saying of the great man 
of antiquity, who had neglected legal forms to save 
his country. Summoned by a captious tribune to 
confess that he had violated the laws, he replied: 
' I swear I have saved my country!' Gentlemen," 
he exclaimed, turning to the commons, " I swear 
that you have saved France." This was mere 
declamation. It was neither logical nor pertinent. 
If the deputies were elected for a year, how could 
the fact that they had taken an oath not to separate 
until they had accomplished a certain result extend 
their term of office? Their conduct was a clear 


usurpation of authority. How could the powers 
of the delegates be changed by an act of their own 
not authorized by their constituents, an act not 
sanctioned by the people? for the latter had been 
given no opportunity to be heard upon the question. 
How could the labors and the efforts of the depu- 
ties, no matter how beneficial to the country, ren- 
der the exercise of unauthorized powers legiti- 

The concluding sentences in the speech of Mira- 
beau admit the usurpation and the reason of it. 
The Roman general excused himself for violating 
the laws because he had saved the republic. The 
deputies were to continue in office in violation of 
law, because, in their opinion, they had saved 
France. " Let not the citizens allow themselves 
to be persuaded that the laws can be defended by 
being broken," exclaimed Mirabeau, upon a 
memorable occasion. 

Politicians were the same then as they are to- 
day, loath to surrender their power; but in this 
instance there was a potent reason for the deputies 
of the commons to retain it at all hazards, for its 
surrender would, perhaps, have resulted in the loss 
of much, if not all, that had been gained. If the 
court party had won their point and elections had 
been decreed, the Revolution might have been a 
different story. The commons believed that the 
exigencies of the situation required the continu- 
ance of the Assembly until France was redeemed, 
and they consequently ignored the law. They 
acted upon the assumption that the end justified the 



Almost a year had passed since the fall of the 
Bastile. The fourteenth of July was approaching. 
It was an anniversary that called for national re- 
joicing. It was a red-letter day in the calendar of 
the Revolution, and marked a glorious epoch in the 
record of man's struggles for liberty and political 
regeneration. It was to be signalized as the dawn 
of an era of brotherly love. 

The Field of Mars was selected as the place for 
the holding of a National Festival. It seemed a 
mockery that a plain, dedicated to the god of war, 
was to be the meeting-place of the representatives 
of all the nations, where, in fraternal greeting, 
they were to welcome in an era of universal peace. 

As a preliminary to this patriotic fete, it was 
proposed in the Assembly the abolition of titles, 
armorial bearings, liveries, and orders of knight- 
hood. Scenes such as were witnessed during the 
delirium of the session of August 4, 1789, were 
repeated on June 20, 1790, when noblemen, in a 
spirit of emotional patriotism, joined with the 
popular members of the Assembly in destroying 
" the pompous paraphernalia of other times" and 
stripping themselves of the proud titles of ancestry 
and the distinction of honored names. Maury, 
the son of a shoemaker, opposed the motion, a 
motion which had been seconded by a Montmor- 
ency, a representative of one of the oldest and 
proudest houses of France. Under the decree, the 
Marquis de la Fayette became simply M. Mottier; 
the Due de Montmorency, M. Laval ; and the 
Comte de Mirabeau, M. Riquetti. This was break- 
ing down with a vengeance the barriers of caste 


and ushering in an era of social, as well as political, 

In the wild enthusiasm of the hour, a motion was 
made by one of the Lameths that the equestrian 
statue of Louis XIV. on the Place des Victoires, 
representing him trampling on conquered provinces, 
should be removed. '' In the days of liberty," the 
orator exclaimed, " these monuments of slavery 
ought not to be endured. It is not fit that the 
people of Franche-Comte, when they come to Paris 
to attend the National Festival, should see their 
image thus enchained." The motion was carried. 

Jean Baptiste Clootz, known as " Anacharsis 
Clootz," who, in his sublime vanity, styled himself 
orator of the human race, and who declared that 
his heart was French and his soul sans-culotte, came 
forward with a proposition that the representatives 
of all the nations should be presented to the 
Assembly and be assigned a location in the Great 

He was a Prussian baron, a half-witted creature, 
who had travelled much, had written some, and 
whose mind had been upset by the excitement of the 
Revolution. He claimed to have enjoyed the 
friendship of Edmund Burke, and boasted that he 
was the personal enemy of Jesus Christ. He gath- 
ered a delegation of men representing many na- 
tions; most of them, no doubt, had been picked 
up in Paris in out-of-the-way places. Some of his 
delegates, perhaps, had never seen the lands they 
represented, but they answered the purpose, and 
their real nationality was sufficiently disguised 
under the costumes they wore. At a time when 


men's minds were affected by a universal enthusi- 
asm, it was easy for them to accept as true any- 
thing they were anxious to believe. It appealed to 
the vanity of Frenchmen when they saw all the 
world seeking 1 to pay devotion at the shrine of their 
liberty. And why should they question the nation- 
ality of the members of so imposing and so digni- 
fied an embassy? The Assembly received them 
with respect and a fair show of dignity. Clootz 
made a high-flown speech about universal brother- 
hood, and the President made a suitable response, 
in which he granted permission to the delegates to 
be present at the Feast of the Federation, pro- 
vided, when they returned to their homes, they 
would tell what they had seen in France, the land 
of liberty and equality. Many of them, it is safe 
to say, never got beyond the borders of France, 
perhaps not outside the limits of Paris. They 
quietly returned to their humble occupations, proud 
of having taken part as representatives of foreign 
lands and empires in the great Jubilee of the 
world's freedom. The nation was intoxicated, and 
in its inebriety saw truth in fiction; fiction in 
truth. In its sober moments such a scene would 
have appeared silly, ridiculous, without meaning or 
purpose ; but the minds of men, under the spell of 
the hour, affected to see in this travesty that which 
they hoped for, the universal brotherhood of 
man. The whole thing was merely symbolical. It 
was a sham ; for what right had these men, chosen 
by the crack-brained Clootz, to represent the coun- 
tries they stood for? They were merely actors in 
a farce and had as much authority to speak for 

From an engraving by Bonneville 


the lands they represented as an actor has to speak 
for a king whom he personates in a play upon 
the stage. 

All France enthusiastically prepared for the 
National Federation ; delegates were chosen to 
represent every village, town, district, and province 
in the kingdom, and as the happy day came on 
apace, every road leading to Paris was crowded 
with pilgrims on their way to the national shrine. 
They had the ardor and the enthusiasm of the 
crusaders of old, and they enlivened their march 
to the capital by song and music. Every house on 
the road, no matter how humble, had its doors wide 
open to welcome the travellers. Every town 
through which they passed gave them hearty greet- 
ing, food, and shelter. Flags and banners were 
flying, people cheering, bands playing, cannon 
booming, and all France seemed to be quickened 
by a new impulse, the impulse of a people just 
emancipated from the thraldom of tyranny, and 
feeling the ecstasy of a new-born liberty. 

Michelet, in referring to this period, says that 
he received a letter from an octogenarian who, 
many years after the celebration, described it with 
fervent and affecting enthusiasm, and the historian 
adds, " Oh ! what must the flame have been since 
the ashes are so warm." 

It was feared by many that Paris, during the 
celebration, while crowded with strangers, would 
be the scene of riot and tumult, but these immense 
crowds that had gathered in the capital were not 
bent on pillage nor bloodshed. They were affected 
by the sentiment that inspired all hearts with a 



common purpose, which purpose was the union 
of all interests, the peace of all France, and the 
universal brotherhood of man. The Revolution 
was never so passive and Paris never so safe from 
violence as during this period of jubilation. 

To get ready for the event, twelve thousand to 
fifteen thousand men were put to work on the 
Field of Mars to dig out the centre and use 
the earth in erecting an amphitheatre for the 
accommodation of an audience of half a million 

The field was a mile long and half a mile wide. 
The time was short, and it was soon discovered 
that the work could not be accomplished without 
an additional force of workmen. Patriotic citizens, 
men, women, and even children, volunteered their 
services, and by night and by day, amidst laughter 
and song, the toilers worked. Paris was in a de- 
lirium ; all classes strove to make the event a suc- 
cess. The festival was the promise of a new era. 
Equality and fraternity were the watchwords. 
Liberty had come to stay, and in ecstasy all hearts 
exclaimed : If liberty cannot find a resting-place in 
France, in the name of God where will it abide? 
Surely this glorious hope of freedom will not take 
the place of the happiness it promises. 

In unison, the thousands of willing workers 
joined their voices in singing in chorus, "Ca ira! 
Ca ira !" Yes, it will come. The law of the great 
legislator will be fulfilled. " He that exalteth him- 
self shall be humbled, and he that humbleth him- 
self shall be exalted.'' It was not the wild fren- 
zied " ' a ira !" of '93 that became the cry of mad- 


ness and murder and made the human heart 

So vast a work was never done under contract 
in so short a time. It was a labor of love. It was 
begun on the 7th of the month and finished on the 
1 4th. Willing hands made heavy work light. 
Class distinctions were ignored, the barriers of 
caste were leveled. The cobbler and the chevalier 
chatted pleasantly; plebeian and patrician, phi- 
losopher and fool, nun and harlot, prince and 
vagrant, high born lady and market dame, worked 
side by side. Madame du Barry may have smiled 
on St. Just, and a duchess may have removed her 
glove to shake hands with a soiled laborer. The 
legends may be very close to the truth. The day of 
universal peace and love had come; all hearts 
joined to welcome the rising of the sun of freedom 
that bathed the whole world in the splendor and 
the glory of its regenerating light. 

The inns and hotels of Paris were overflowing. 
Private houses were opened and accommodations 
furnished for visitors; there were no strangers, 
all were friends and brothers. A common joy and 
hope had made them one in affection and had 
united them in sentiment. There was one day at 
least, be it said to the glory of the Revolution, 
when France felt the impulse that springs from the 
love of humanity and the sentiment of a common 

Ridiculous as this celebration was in some of its 
features, emotional almost to the degree of hys- 
teria, its sentimentality at times artificial and 
morbid, still it must be admitted that it inspired 


a love for France and all mankind, and created a 
wish and a hope in the hearts of the people for 
the whole world's peace and regeneration. To be 
sure, these sentiments did not last long; but while 
they did, they were sincere, and France had a re- 
spite from hate. 

The 1 4th of July, in due course of time, arrived ; 
the morning dawned dark and gloomy; nature 
frowned upon the occasion, for the clouds were 
heavy and black and the rain came down in tor- 
rents. Gay banners, rich costumes, brilliant uni- 
forms were drenched ; flags clung like wet rags to 
their staffs and would not greet the breeze ; plumes 
and feathers and flowers drooped under the steady 
downpour. The vast amphitheatre was turned 
into a muddy ditch, but the people, notwithstand- 
ing the fact that they were wet to the skin, and 
that their garments were bedraggled, rejoiced in 
their hearts, and defied the elements. 

Citizen La Fayette pranced around and across 
the field on his white charger, his name ringing in 
acclamation from the generous multitude that rose 
time and again to greet him. He was the central 
figure of the fete, outshining the glory of the king. 
It was one of La Fayette's great days. To him it 
was rich in meaning and in promise. . To no one 
in all that vast throng did the sentiments of the 
occasion appeal more strongly than to this plebeian 
marquis, with the love of man in his heart and 
with a devoted loyalty to France. 

Louis was seated upon a throne under a canopy 
spangled with golden fleurs-de-lis; the queen and 
her suite sat behind him. The President of the 


Assembly, representing the sovereignty of the na- 
tion, occupied a seat, not a throne, surrounded by 
the deputies. Mirabeau had made every effort to 
secure the Presidency for the period covering the 
days of the festival, but he had been thwarted in 
his ambition by La Fayette. The Marquis de Bon- 
nay, a mere figurehead, had secured the honor. 

In the centre of the amphitheatre stood the altar, 
at which Talleyrand officiated as the hierarch of 
the fete. To assist him were one hundred choris- 
ters, swinging censers, and three hundred priests 
in white surplices and broad tri-color sashes. The 
church, clothed in the symbol of the Revolution, 
paid homage to the monster that was to destroy 
her. In the field, in serried ranks, were one hun- 
dred thousand of the National Guard. 

" Don't make me laugh," said the cynical Tal- 
leyrand to La Fayette, as he rose to celebrate the 
solemn high mass of the Roman Church. To this 
cold-hearted priest the celebration was a pageant 
without meaning. His soul did not respond to the 
sentiment and emotion of the occasion. To him it 
was a mere show insignificant, silly, ridiculous. 
The music of the Te Deum was executed by twelve 
hundred musicians, and the religious exercises 
were solemn and impressive. 

The bishop blessed the banners, and they were 
unfurled and fluttered in the breeze like myriads 
of wings till the air was full of color. 

La Fayette took the oath to the nation. The 

king solemnly swore to defend the constitution. 

The queen held up the dauphin and consecrated 

him to France amidst the plaudits and cheers of 



that great concourse of people. " Long live the 
king!" " Long live the queen!" " Long live the 
dauphin!" cried the exultant multitude in the 
ecstasy of patriotic emotion. Cheers and music 
rilled the air, swords flashed, banners waved, can- 
non boomed, and France, to the very centre, felt 
the thrill of a new life. 

The weather changed, the rain ceased, and the 
sun came out from behind the clouds as if to give 
assurance that all nature rejoiced with France in 
her regeneration. If it were an augury, the con- 
ditions should have been reversed. The celebra- 
tion should have begun with sunshine and ended in 
a storm. 

The festivities continued for several days. 
There was dancing on the streets, in the public 
squares, and on the very spot where a year before 
had stood the Bastile, that hated dungeon of 
agony and despair. Citizens, strangers to each 
other, would stop on the highways and exchange 
greetings and congratulations. 

So long as the visiting Federates remained, the 
festivities continued, but gradually the throng of 
strangers dispersed, the delegates returned to their 
homes, dancing ceased, merriment subsided, joy 
and smiles left the faces of men, and Paris settled 
down again to the stern and bitter work of the 

Alas! the great Federation, after all, was only 
a pageant, it was but the expression, the em- 
phasis of a fleeting emotion. It was one of the 
many ironies of the Revolution. 

Under all this fervid avowal of human brother- 


hood and loyalty to the king were smouldering the 
fires that were soon to be blown into a devouring 
flame by passion and hate. The Revolution 
halted on its way only for a week. It stopped to 
watch a play, a comedy that was to be followed 
by a tragedy, dire and dreadful. 

Peace! Peace! there was no peace. Violence 
and disorder soon prevailed. The mob grew rest- 
less and turbulent. The struggle had been only 
half fought out and worse was yet to follow. 

Radical revolutionary ideas at this time were 
spreading rapidly in every direction and especially 
were they taking deep root in the minds of the 
soldiers of the. line. Political agitators were 
reaching the soldiers by distributing pamphlets and 
journals that taught the new doctrines. The 
propaganda was well organized and effective. 

The officers, in the vast majority of instances, 
were pronounced royalists and they adopted most 
stringent measures to prevent the distribution of 
this inflammatory literature, the teachings of 
which, they believed, were demoralizing the morale 
and discipline of the army, destroying the senti- 
ment of loyalty to the king and fostering a spirit 
of mutiny. But an incident took place in the lat- 
ter part of August, 1790, that for a time caused 
a reaction, delayed the progress of the Revolution, 
and gave the court party new hope. It was called 
by the radicals the " Massacre," but by the royal- 
ists, merely the " Affair of Nancy." 

The National Assembly, early in the year 1790, 
had decreed an increase in the pay of the soldiers, 
25 385 


but the officers at Nancy having charge of the 
accounts delayed in every possible way the pay- 
ment of the money due. The French soldiers ap- 
pointed a committee to wait upon the officers, and 
the committee insisted upon an inspection of the 
accounts. They succeeded in compelling the pay- 
ment of a large sum that had been for months in 
arrears. The Swiss soldiers, hearing of the success 
of their brothers in arms, appointed a committee 
of two to wait on the French soldiers and ascer- 
tain from them the details of the plan they had 
adopted, and which had resulted so successfully. 

The officers commanding the Swiss regiment 
were so incensed at the audacity of subordinates, 
who would dare to ask for information which 
would enable them to secure their rights, that the 
arrest of the ringleaders was ordered, and, after a 
hearing, they were publicly scourged in the presence 
of the troops and of the inhabitants of the town. 
It was an unjust punishment, a cruel humiliation. 
Their only crime was in endeavoring to secure 
that which rightfully belonged to them. The 
anger of the French soldiers was aroused by such 
injustice and cruelty, and they took under their 
protection the soldiers that had been punished, 
escorted them through the town in honor, and 
compelled the officers to pay the men damages for 
the whipping. Here was mutiny indeed, and in its 
most flagrant form. 

The Swiss Regiment was the famous Chateau- 

Vieux that had been ordered on the I4th of July 

to fire upon the citizens, but had refused to obey 

the command. This conduct had endeared them 



to the people and there was no regiment more 
popular in all France. 

It was rumored that the French officers were 
about to carry the regimental chest across the 
frontier. The soldiers thereupon seized the chest 
and afterwards sent a delegation to Paris to lay 
the facts before the Assembly and to explain their 
conduct. The ambassadors, upon reaching tho 
capital, were arrested by La Fayette and thrown 
into prison. The Assembly took the matter, at 
once, under consideration, decreed that the soldiers 
were mutineers, guilty of treason, and ordered the 
punishment of the ringleaders. 

Chevalier Guiot de Malseigne, a brave and reck- 
less officer, was directed to proceed at once to 
Nancy and see that the decree was enforced. 

Malseigne entered upon the discharge of his 
duty with all the ardor of his nature, and with the 
determination of a trained soldier who believed 
that disobedience and mutiny were crimes that 
merited the severest punishment, and he was de- 
termined, so far as he was concerned, that no 
time should be lost in carrying into execution the 
decree of the Assembly. 

Malseigne was not the wisest man who could 
have been chosen for the task; he was wanting 
in judicial temperament; he had the roystering 
spirit of the barracks, but his courage was beyond 
all question; he had proved it on the field of 
battle and in personal encounter. Many stories 
are told of his wonderful prowess; he was a veri- 
table d'Artagnan. Upon one occasion, believing 
that his honor had been wounded by a fellow- 


officer, he coolly closed the door of the room in 
which they were quarreling and challenged the 
offender. In the struggle that ensued, the officer 
drove his sword through Malseigne's body and 
pinned him to the wall. The Chevalier, however, 
did not surrender nor ask for quarter, but waited 
his opportunity, and when the sword was with- 
drawn, rushed upon his antagonist and made short 
work of him, stretching him out a corpse upon 
the floor. He then opened the door, wounded 
and bleeding as he was, handed his sword to 
an officer, and surrendered himself to the law. He 
was tried in a military court and acquitted. 

At another time, while in a church in one of 
the provinces where a riot was threatened, he drew 
his sword and solemnly prayed God to pardon him 
for the blood he was about to shed. The peasants 
heard his supplication. There was no riot, no 
further tumult. 

When this bold-spirited, hot-tempered fellow 
reached Nancy, and made known his errand of 
vengeance, the troops, who were in an angry mood, 
threatened to arrest him; he straightway plucked 
out his sword, cut his way through their ranks, 
put spurs to his horse, and rode with the speed of 
light to Luneville. Here he was seized by soldiers 
supposed to be loyal, surrendered to his pursuers, 
carried back to Nancy, and thrown into prison. It 
was a case of the biter bitten. 

General Bouille, a soldier of the old school and 

of the old order, who was not in sympathy with the 

Revolution, and who had refused to take the oath 

to the constitution, was at Metz. He was the last 



man in the kingdom to dally with insubordination. 
Soldiers could have no grievances, no matter how 
great, that could, in his eyes, excuse mutiny. 
With seven hundred men of the National Guard 
and three thousand six hundred German mercena- 
ries, he marched in quick time to Nancy. He 
ordered the immediate release of Malseigne. His 
order was obeyed, and the doughty Chevalier was 
set at liberty. 

The French troops that had mutinied marched 
out of the town, but the Swiss guarding one of 
the gates, either misunderstanding the matter or 
deciding to persist in rebellion, prepared for an 
attack. They unlimbered their cannon as the regi- 
ments of Bouille advanced, and prepared for 
action. A heroic young officer named Desilles 
threw himself in front of the cannon and begged 
the Swiss not to act rashly. He was blown to 
pieces. They then opened fire on the advancing 
column, killing at the first discharge fifty men. 
The conflict was now on in earnest; it lasted for 
upwards of three hours. Bouille lost three hun- 
dred men. All the Swiss were killed, wounded, 
or taken prisoners. Of those who survived the 
battle, twenty-one were hanged, one was broken 
on the wheel, and the others sent to the galleys. 

The Assembly, on motion of Mirabeau, honored 
Bouille with a vote of thanks; the king gave him 
special recognition, and added additional territory 
to his command. A public funeral was decreed 
for the dead of his army. 

The Parisian mob went mad over the massacre 
and, aroused by the blatant and fiery appeals of 


the demagogues, they marched through the streets 
threatening to hang the ministers. The ears of 
even Necker were assailed by the curses of the 
rabble. The fury was of short duration. La- 
Fayette dispersed the crowd and quiet was re- 
stored. Marat and Desmoulins shrieked in despair, 
believing that all was lost. Loustallot, editor of 
the Revolutions de Paris, died of a broken heart. 
The Royalists were jubilant; a reaction set in at 
once; the tri-color was trampled under foot, and 
the white cockade of the Bourbons was, for a time, 
in the ascendancy. 







NECKER, fiddling and figuring away, while 
Rome was burning, was lost sight of in the excite- 
ment of the times, and sending in his resignation 
on September 3, 1790, quietly slipped across the 
frontier and nestled snugly in Switzerland. Swept 
away in the whirl, he was thrown upon a foreign 
shore like wreckage. " Little man, vain man, 
your laurels are withered, they will grow green 
no more," screamed Marat, the vulture of the 
Revolution, as a parting salutation. 

Vainly did Necker employ his time writing and 
distributing pamphlets in an effort to show all 
Europe that the monarchy was lost because his 
plans had not been adopted and his advice had 
not been followed. He was neither listened to nor 
believed. A politician out of power or place ^as 
but few hearers when he undertakes to explain hn 
mistakes or to excuse his failures. He is as tire- 
some as the man who nurses and airs a personal 

Necker's qualities of mind never fitted him for 
the turmoil of a revolution. His puritanical 
morality and prudish respectability never allowed 


him to make combinations with men whose code 
of morals he could not reconcile with his own 
ideas of propriety. Guizot says : " The great- 
financial talents of M. Necker, his probity, his 
courage, had caused illusions as to his political 
talents; useful in his day and in his degree, he 
was no longer equal to the task." " Finance," 
says Stephens, " cannot be separated from politics, 
and for Necker to carry on his little plans without 
regard to broad considerations of political expedi- 
ency, was utterly ridiculous." 

The same writer says that " Mirabeau was not 
only the greatest statesman of the Revolution, but 
he was also its greatest financier, and many of the 
measures by which, in after years, Claviere and 
Cambon gained credit, are suggested in Mirabeau's 
notes to the court." 

If Necker had only advised with Mirabeau, his 
administration would have been strengthened and 
France greatly benefited. It was the idea of his 
own self-sufficiency that wrought his ruin. "An 1 
what kind of man is this M. Necker," exclaimed 
Mirabeau, "that he should be so treated? You 
might as well make an issue in a wooden leg as to 
give him advice, for he certainly would not follow 
it. It is thus that kings are led to the scaffold. 
Tie looks upon me as a madman with lucid in- 

Bourrienne, in his Memoirs of Napoleon, says: 
;< The concessions of Necker were those of a man 
ignorant of the first principles of the government 
of mankind. It was he that overturned the mon- 
archy and brought Louis XVI. to the scaffold. 


Marat, Danton, Robespierre himself, did less mis- 
chief to France. Necker was the author of all the 
evils which desolated France during the Revolu- 
tion, and all the blood that was shed rests upon 
his head." This is too severe; it is sheer exaggera- 
tion and not worthy of consideration, for it passes 
beyond the limits of just criticism. Even to inti- 
mate that he was responsible for all the evils that 
desolated France, is doing him a grave injustice; 
a statement so sweeping is without any foundation 
in truth. He was an academic, a theoretic financier, 
who, under normal conditions, would have carried 
his portfolio with dignity, and would have borne 
his office with honor. He was a man of high 
ideals, of sterling integrity, of purity of life, and 
of fervent partriotism, but totally unfitted for a 
storm and stress period, and without the ability 
to cope with the men and the conditions of the 
Revolution. He was wofully wanting in the essen- 
tial qualities of the politician, and his personal 
vanity and self-confidence stood in the way of the 
successful administration of his office. 

In November, 1790, Rabaut St. Etienne pro- 
posed in the Assembly that the National Guard 
should be composed only of citizens who were 
taxpayers. The motion had for its object the dis- 
qualification of the canaille. Mirabeau, with all 
his might, argued in favor of the motion. 

At the evening session of the Jacobins, on the 
following day, Robespierre, in an earnest speech, 
urged the members to do all in their power to 
defeat the obnoxious measure, describing it as dis- 
criminating in character and aristocratic in pur- 



pose. Mirabeau, who at that time was president 
of the Club, fearing the effect of Robespierre's elo- 
quence, endeavored to cut off further debate by 
ruling the speaker out of order, but Robespierre, 
insisting upon his right to continue without inter- 
ruption, called upon his friends to secure him fair 
play. His supporters at once rallied to his aid; 
they shouted to him to go on, and encouraged 
him to defy the president. The meeting was 
thrown into an uproar. Mirabeau, perceiving that 
the battle was going against him, rang his bell to 
restore order, but, by this action, instead of quiet- 
ing the tumult, only added to the din and disorder. 
At last, in his most imperious manner, he com- 
manded silence, but failing to quiet the tumult he 
cried out : " Let my friends surround me," but 
only a few answered his call. Mirabeau suffered 
a stinging defeat. He was losing his hold on the 
ultra-radicals ; they were beginning to array them- 
selves against his leadership. 

About this time, in order to get rid of the popu- 
lar leaders of the Assembly, a number of skilled 
swordsmen among the royalists entered into a plot 
to challenge personally those deputies who offended 
the king by their disloyal and treasonable utter- 
ances, the purpose of the royalists being to hu- 
miliate or brand with cowardice those who declined 
the challenges, or to disable, with their superior 
skill, those who were foolish enough to fight. All 
sorts of excuses were trumped up and challenges 
flew thick and fast. Mirabeau had a list as long 
as his arm, but seeing through the purpose of his 
enemies, he publicly stated that he would accom- 



modate them in regular order after he got through 
his work in the Assembly ; that he owed a duty to 
his constituents, and that he would not run the 
risk of losing his life by meeting, under the code, 
men whose only purpose was to injure the popular 
cause by disabling or killing its leaders and repre- 

Mirabeau, in February, 1791, was elected presi- 
dent of the Assembly. This was an honor that he 
had longed for and, after patient waiting, although 
late, it came to him after it had been conferred 
upon forty-three other members. (The term of 
office was only a fortnight). Mirabeau had suf- 
fered several prior defeats. He was at last elected 
by a large majority. He bore the office with great 
dignity, and won the admiration of his bitterest 
enemies by his impartial judgment. He controlled 
the convention, his rulings were clear, fair, and 
apt. He dispatched the business and kept the de- 
bates within limits. He was ever at his post, and 
physical suffering could not keep him away. His 
body, at times, was racked with pain. He had 
acute inflammation of the eyes, and frequently 
came to the Assembly with his head swathed in 
bandages, the blood trickling down his cheeks from 
leech-bites. " He was frightful," says Malouet, 
" but never more active, more eloquent." 

It was no easy task to preside over a body so 
stormy in its deliberations as the National Assem- 
bly. Mirabeau seems to have been the only pre- 
siding officer who kept the members well in hand. 
Parliamentary rules have never been as closely 
observed in deliberative assemblies in France as 


in England and in America. During the Revo- 
lution they were almost totally disregarded. 
' There was as much difference," says Dumont, 
" between the debates of the National Assembly 
and those of the English Parliament as between 
the scientific sieges and marches of the Austrians 
and the irregular combats and skirmishes of the 

On the floor, epithets were bandied from one 
speaker to another ; personalities were indulged in, 
and noisy interruptions were of constant occur- 
rence. The galleries were generally crowded with 
an unruly audience that applauded and hissed, in 
turn, the speakers, and loudly passed comments 
upon questions under consideration; at times, so 
seriously interrupting the proceedings that it be- 
came impossible to continue the discussions. A 
big bell instead of a gavel, in the hands of the 
president, for the purpose of calling the body to 
order, greatly added, in times of excitement, to 
the noise and confusion. Peddlers sold fruit and 
news-boys cried out the latest editions of the Revo- 
lutionary journals. 

" Happily," wrote Camille Desmoulins in the 
I MII ternc, " the incorruptible galleries are there 
which always stand on the side of the patriots. 
They represent the tribunes who assisted the dis- 
cussions of the Senate on a bench, and had the 
veto right. They represent the capital, and, for- 
tunately, the constitution is framed under the bat- 
teries of the capital." 

One day an attempt was made to silence the 
galleries, but Volney, one of the deputies, rose and 


exclaimed: " Why should we do that? The men 
who sit there are our masters; we are only their 
workmen; they have the right to censure or ap- 
plaud us as they like !" So craven a spirit as this 
simply encouraged the mob and increased the dis- 
order. During the Reign of Terror, the legislation 
was virtually directed by the rabble in the galleries ; 
even the floor of the hall, at times, was invaded 
by the crowd that openly insulted and threatened 
those members whose utterances they did not 

Lally Tollendal, after the scenes of the 5th and 
6th of October, withdrew from this " Cavern of 
Cannibals," as he called the National Assembly, 
and retired to a foreign land, declaring " it was 
beyond his strength to endure any longer the 
bloodshed, the assassinations, the insulted sover- 
eign, the menaced queen, . . . the composure of 
Bailly, the audacity of Mirabeau, and the laughter 
of Barnave." 

Mirabeau was most happy in the addresses he 
made to visiting deputations during his incum- 
bency of the office of president. Especially was this 
so upon the occasion of the visit of a committee of 
Quakers that applied to the Assembly to be 
allowed to practise their religion in France and to 
enjoy immunity from military service, and from 
the taking of oaths in legal proceedings. He was 
to have made answer, at the morning session, on 
the loth of February, 1791, but having had a 
severe attack of ophthalmia, he was not able to 
speak until the evening, and, although suffering 
intensely, he insisted upon delivering an address to 


the delegation. The following are his remarks; 
they are thoughtful, reasonable, and display a 
most tolerant spirit: 

" The Quakers who have fled from tyrants and 
persecutors could but address themselves with 
confidence to those legislators who have been the 
first to reduce into laws the Rights of Man; and 
it is possible that regenerated France France in 
the bosom of peace, for which she always will 
recommend the most inviolable respect, and which 
she desires for all other nations may, perhaps, 
become a happy Pennsylvania. 

" As a philanthropic system, your principles com- 
mand our admiration ; they call to our recollection 
that the first cradle of each society was a family, 
united by its manners, by its affections, and by its 

" The examination of your doctrines, considered 
as opinions, do not concern us. The movements 
and the transports of a man's thought are property 
which he would not enjoy in common. That 
sacred domain places man in a hierarchy more 
elevated than civil society. As a citizen, he adopts 
only one form of government ; as a thinking man, 
he has no country save the universe. As a religious 
system your doctrines will not, therefore, be the 
object of our deliberations, for the intercourse of 
each individual with the Almighty is independent 
of all political institutions. Between God and the 
heart of each man, what government shall dare to 

" As social maxims, your claims must be sub- 
mitted to the discussion of the legislative body. It 


will examine whether the form you observe to 
notify births and marriages gives sufficient authen- 
ticity to that filiation of the human race which the 
distinction of property renders necessary, indepen- 
dent of good morals. 

" It will discuss if a declaration, the falsity 
whereof would incur the penalties established 
against false witnesses and perjuries, would not 
be in reality a false oath. Estimable citizens ! you 
deceive yourselves; you have already taken that 
civic oath which every man worthy of being free 
regards rather as a pleasure than a duty. You 
have not called God to witness, but you have at- 
tested your conscience; and a pure conscience, is 
it not as a cloudless sky? Is it not a ray of the 
divinity ? 

" You say, further, that an article of your re- 
ligion forbids you to take arms and to kill, under 
any pretext whatsoever. That, without doubt, is 
a beautiful, philosophical principle which offers 
such a worship to humanity. But take care that 
the defence of yourselves and of your fellow-men 
be not equally a religious duty. Would you have 
stooped to tyrants, rather than have broken that 
principle? Since we have acquired and won 
liberty for you and for ourselves, why would you 
refuse to preserve it? Would your brethren of 
Pennsylvania have suffered the savages to have 
devoured their wives, their children, and their old 
men rather than repulse them with violence ? And 
the stupid tyrants, the ferocious conquerors, what 
are they but savages? 

" The Assembly, in its wisdom, will discuss all 


your requests, and if ever I meet a Quaker, I will 
say to him : My brother, if thou hast the right to 
be free, thou hast a right to oppose any who would 
make thee a slave. 

" Since thou lovest thy fellow-creature, let him 
not be devoured by tyranny ; that would be to slay 
him thyself. Thou desirest peace; well then, is it 
not weakness that causes war? A universal resist- 
ance would be a universal peace." 

" Towards the end of 1790," writes Michelet, 
" there was for a moment an apparent halt, little 
or nothing stirring; nothing but a great number 
of vehicles crowding at the barriers, and the roads 
thronged with emigrants." The rich were hurry- 
ing away from the kingdom in great numbers ; six 
thousand passports were issued in five days. 

More and more the people were being convinced 
that the nobles were quitting France only to invade 
it. The king, accordingly, was held as hostage to 
insure the good behavior of his friends. It was 
the common belief that if the king should escape, 
he would return at the head of an invading army, 
not only to recover his throne, but to destroy the 
constitution. How much better it would have been 
for France if the king had escaped ! He was not 
the man who could have led the armies of the 
allies in an endeavor to recover his crown. He 
would not have inspired enthusiasm and courage 
among his followers in a foreign land any more 
than he did in his own country, nor would he have 
advised any more wisely among strangers than he 
did at home among his friends. He was in no 


sense heroic; he had no quality of leadership; he 
induced pity and sympathy in the hearts of men, 
but he was the last one on earth to have drawn 
his sword, rallied his followers, and led an army 
or a crusade to recover his kingdom. The de- 
sertion of his country and the abandonment of 
his throne would have made him a weak, a con- 
temptible, figure in the eyes of all Europe. He 
would have been but a royal refugee seeking shel- 
ter in a foreign court, after having made no de- 
termined effort to save his throne while he was 
in his own land. In exile he would have been 
without influence. On the other hand, detained as 
a captive in his own capital, he aroused the anger 
and the sympathy of every monarch and court 
party in Europe, and consequently all the powers 
of Europe allied themselves against France. Had 
he escaped, the Revolution would not have been 
disgraced by his cruel and unwarranted execution, 
and the republic might have been sooner and more 
firmly established. But at this time, Frenchmen 
could not imagine a government without a head, 
and that head not a king. Public sentiment was 
not yet in favor of a republic. 

In February of 1791, the King's aunts were 
making preparation to emigrate. Easter was ap- 
proaching and they were anxious to observe the 
festival in a land more orthodox than France, and 
where priests were not bound by oath to revolu- 
tionary doctrines. They were two old maiden 
ladies, the daughters of Louis XV. They had 
long since passed out of the public eye. They 
belonged to a past age and had nothing in com- 
26 401 


mon with the conditions that surrounded them, but 
when it was known that they intended to depart, 
and that they had applied for passports, the whole 
country was thrown into excitement and appre- 
hension ; for their departure, it was thought, was 
preparatory to the flight of the king. The pass- 
ports were refused, and Louis was urged by the 
municipal council to prevent the journey. Mira- 
beau's advice was to persuade quietly the prin- 
cesses to abandon their project; he contended that 
their departure would excite suspicion and arouse 
the anger of the people, but the king would not 
heed the advice. Louis sent word to his aunts to 
come at once to Paris, and, disguised as servants, 
they hastened to the Tuileries. Here they con- 
tinued their preparations, and when arrangements 
were completed, quietly set out upon their journey 
to Rome. The news of their departure having 
been sent abroad, the mob quickly gathered and 
swirled around the palace of the king. The gates 
of the garden had been closed but a few minutes 
before the mob arrived, otherwise the scenes of the 
6th of October, in the palace of Versailles, might 
have been re-enacted at the Tuileries. 

The carriages of the princesses continued as far 
as Moret, where they were stopped by the authori- 
ties, but at once released under the demand of 
one hundred chasseurs. The royal ladies then 
sped to Arnay-le-duc, where they were again de- 

The Assembly seriously took up the question 
for discussion and it was hotly debated. " Is there 
any law against travelling," inquired Mirabeau. 


" The safety of the people," replied the radicals. 
" Obedience to the law is the true safety of the 
people," retorted Mirabeau. 

While the discussion of this most important mat- 
ter was going on, the two old maiden aunts of 
the king were waiting impatiently at Arnay-le-duc 
to be released, that they might continue their 
journey. Robespierre and some other radicals in- 
sisted upon the return of the ladies, but finally 
Menou laughed the case out of court by saying : 
" Europe will be astonished to learn that a great 
Assembly has spent several days in deciding 
whether two old women shall hear mass at Paris 
or at Rome." They were allowed to proceed on 
their way. 

Mirabeau advocated the liberty of emigration as 
one of the most sacred rights of man, who, " not 
being attached by roots to the soil, ought not to 
be attached to it by anything but by happiness." 
Chapelier then read a proposed law reported from 
the committee which would provide for the ap- 
pointment of a commission of three members, 
which should appoint by name, and at their pleas- 
ure, those who were to be at liberty to leave the 
kingdom. Chapelier admitted that such a law 
would violate all principles. Murmurs arose and 
Mirabeau exclaimed : " Your murmurs have 
soothed me, your hearts respond to mine and 
oppose this absurd tyranny. It is a law worthy 
of being placed in the code of Draco and cannot 
find place among the decrees of the National 
Assembly of France. As for me, I hold myself 
released from every oath towards those who shall 


be infamous enough to admit of a dictatorial com- 

The Left hooted him, and, turning to the depu- 
ties on that side, he said : : ' Yes, I swear that 
popularity to which I have aspired and which I 
have enjoyed as well as others, is not a feeble reed. 
I will thrust it deep into the earth and I will make 
it take root in the soil of justice and reason. I 
swear if a law against emigration is voted, I swear 
to disobey you." The Assembly, though aston- 
ished and overawed, rang with applause, for never 
before had Mirabeau shown greater force nor more 
completely dominated the body. 

" What right of dictatorship is it," cried M. 
Goupil, "that M. Mirabeau exercises here?" 

Some proposed an adjournment. Mirabeau 
again mounted the tribune. " I have not given you 
permission to speak," said the President, but Mira- 
beau, disdaining to notice the remark, and com- 
manding the attention of the house, exclaimed : " I 
beg my interrupters to remember that I have all 
my life combated tyranny and that I will combat 
it wherever I find it. I beg M. Goupil to recollect 
that he was under a mistake sometime since in 
regard to a Catiline whose dictatorship he this 
day attacks. I beg the Assembly to remark that 
the question of adjournment, though apparently 
simple, involves others; for example, it presup- 
poses that a law is to be made." 

Shouts of disapproval came from the Left. 

Then it was that Mirabeau rose in the pride of all 

his strength, it was almost the last grand effort 

of his life, in the Assembly, and turning to the 



benches whence came the interruption, where sat 
Barnave, Duport, the Lameths, and their followers, 
he cried out in tones of thunder : " Silence ! aux 
trente voix" (Silence! the thirty voices). 

Mirabeau's motion was not carried, but he suc- 
ceeded in preventing the passage of a law against 
emigration. At the same time, however, he had 
aroused the fury of the radicals on the Left. His 
imperious command to the coterie of " thirty" had 
mortally wounded their pride, for not only had 
they been silenced, but humbled, and they eagerly 
longed to avenge the insult and the humiliation. 
Their anger consumed them and they plotted to 
overthrow and destroy him. 

Mirabeau had. been invited, with others, to dine 
that evening at d'Aiguillon's, but when he called 
at the door, he was refused admission. It was 
thought this rebuff might deter him from attend- 
ing the night session at the Jacobins. It was de- 
cided, however, that if he did put in an appear- 
ance a severe attack should be made upon him. 
He was ready to meet men so mean and oppose 
methods so contemptible. " The vast expansive- 
ness," says Lamartine, " of his mighty soul had 
no resemblance with the paltry impulses of dema- 
gogues." Those who thus sought to intimidate 
him, little knew the mettle of the man. He saw 
through the game and at once accepted the chal- 
lenge. He would not submit to be assailed and 
sacrificed in his absence and he did not hesitate to 
renew the contest single-handed with those men, 
whom, in the afternoon, he had silenced in the 
presence of all France. He knew, too, the bitter- 


ness with which men fight, whose pride has been 
stung and humbled. 

No sooner had he reached the Club than the 
struggle began. Duport assailed him bitterly, 
accusing him and La Fayette of plotting to steal 
the king from Paris. Lameth followed in an 
attack even more savage, denouncing him person- 
ally in a speech filled with abuse and calumny, and 
closed amid the wildest demonstrations of approval. 
The tide had turned against Mirabeau, and it 
looked as if he must be overwhelmed. Deserted, 
friendless, and alone in the camp of his enemies, 
it seemed impossible to repel attacks so bitter, but 
when he rose to reply, his dauntless courage and 
his lofty composure compelled the attention, even 
the respect, of his audience. His personality was 
so overpowering, his eloquence so transcendent, 
his indignation so fierce, and his defiance so cour- 
ageous, that he aroused, even in the hearts of his 
enemies, admiration for a power so commanding. 
He began his speech, interrupted by hisses, and he 
closed it amid plaudits and cheers. As he left the 
hall, he remarked, " You cannot drive me from 
the Club; only ostracism shall separate me from 

There are several accounts given of this remark- 
able meeting at the Jacobins on the evening of 
February 28, 1791. Camille Desmoulins, whose 
love and admiration for Mirabeau had turned to 
bitter hatred, describes the great orator as a piti- 
able and contemptible figure, impotent in his rage, 
writhing under the lash of Duport and Lameth. 
He pictures him as a Christ on Calvary, the per- 


spiration dripping from under his mane, pressed 
out by agony. He declares that his shallow 
sophistries and pompous oratory availed not to de- 
ceive the clear-sighted, patriotic Jacobins. It is 
true, he adds, that he was not ejected from the 
Club, and when he left there was some applause. 
His description of the Jacobin Club as the new 
Calvary and Mirabeau as the Christ, was not only 
sacrilegious, but was susceptible of a meaning en- 
tiely different from what his heated and disordered 
imagination intended. 

Desmoulins was a blind partisan, influenced at all 
times by his prejudices and hatred, and, above all, 
controlled by his emotions. When he admits that 
Mirabeau was not ejected from the Club and that 
he retired with applause, it may be taken for 
granted that Mirabeau's triumph was complete. 
When he describes him as writhing under the lash 
of his enemies, it may be assumed that this was 
before he had a chance to reply. 

McCarthy refers to a letter written by Mr. A. 
W. Miles to Lord Rodney on April I, 1791, in 
which the scene is described. The writer says he 
was present at " this extraordinary denunciation," 
that he sat next to Charles Lameth, who, while 
Mirabeau, trembling and pale, was defending him- 
self in the tribune, frequently interrupted him by 
calling him vile names; that the Marquis de Saint 
Huruge also indulged in like conduct. " You 
would have been astonished," he further writes, 
" at the miserable answer Mirabeau made to an 
accusation in which justice, humanity, and policy 
must have furnished him with abundant matter for 


defence." The writer closes his account by saying 
that " amid plaudits he descended from the same 
tribune which amid groans, reproaches, and hisses, 
he had mounted in a panic, and in which he was 
some time before he could obtain a hearing." The 
argument of Mirabeau did not specially impress 
Mr. Miles, but Mirabeau, on this matter, was, no 
doubt, a better judge of what should be said than 
his English critic. Like Camille, Mr. Miles admits 
that although Mirabeau was greeted with hisses 
when he ascended the tribune, at the end of his 
reply, he won the applause of his hearers. 

Another account, and a most interesting one, is 
given by an eye-witness named Oelsner. He was 
a foreigner, a Swiss. He was in no sense preju- 
diced, and took no part in the Revolution. He only 
saw one brave man assailed from all sides, val- 
iantly fighting his battle alone. He was greatly im- 
pressed by the scene and describes it most vividly. 
His nervous system was so affected by the wild 
tumult and confusion incident to the debate, that 
he was ill for several days afterwards. The at- 
tacks on Mirabeau were so fierce that Oelsner 
feared for Mirabeau's personal safety. In the re- 
ply to Duport, Mirabeau had not reached to his 
full power, but when he rose to answer Lameth, 
\\iv> had referred to all the follies and vices of 
Mirabeau's early life, his vehemence was terrific. 
An attempt had been made by the president, after 
Lameth ? speech, to force an adjournment and thus 
prevent Mirabeau's replying to his opponent; but 
against all opposition, he mounted the tribune and 
demanded to be heard. " It was a hot combat," 


says Oelsner. " He put forth all the resources of 
his genius to vanquish his young and agile adver- 
sary. He clutched him and his companions with 
a hand of iron and of fire. He wrenched from 
them their false arms and struck incurable blows. 
His boiling wrath gushed over all who had im- 
pugned him. Truths which no one had ever dared 
to breathe in the Club, crashed like claps of thun- 
der through the hall. His boldness, his noble bear- 
ing, petrified the audience with astonishment. 
Thus he put down the furious, and there was not 
one from whom he did not force, if not applause, 
at least, high admiration. Even in the National 
Assembly, Mirabeau had never been more master- 

After this, there was open war between Mira- 
beau and the Jacobins. He appreciated and under- 
stood what it all meant, for he told his sister that 
he had signed his death warrant. In the Assembly 
and in the Clubs, he was most bitterly assailed, and 
the revolutionary journals attacked him on all sides 
in a mad desire and endeavor to destroy his popu- 

" I shall die," he said, " before anything is ac- 
complished. The members of the Assembly wish 
to govern the king instead of to govern through 
him, but soon, neither he nor they will govern. A 
vile faction will impose its yoke on both alike and 
cover France with its atrocities." 





" How weary and tired I am !" wrote Mirabeau, 
in December, 1790. He was yielding to the exces- 
sive strain. " I am dying as by slow fire," he re- 
marked to Dumont. Work and dissipation had 
sapped his vigor, and the giant was reeling to his 

On March 27, 1791, as he left the Assembly, he 
said to La Marck, a large proprietor of mines, 
whose property was endangered by proposed legis- 
lation, and whose fortune, in consequence, was at 
stake : ' '* Your case is won, but as for me, I am 
a dead man." On that day he had summoned all 
his strength for a last effort, and the last effort was 
made in behalf of his friend. He had spoken five 
times, and, at the close of the day's session, was 
greatly exhausted. He spent the night at Argen- 
teuil and succeeded in obtaining some rest, but in 
the morning, his sufferings increased. He took a 
hot bath which, in a measure, revived him. In 
the evening he attended the Italian Opera, but was 
compelled to leave before the performance was 
over, and was driven home rapidly. The hand of 
death was upon him. Doctors and medicine cannot 
save him now. To his friend, Cabanis, he said: 
' Thou art a great physician, but the author of the 
wind that overthrows all things; of the water 


that penetrates and fructifies all things ; of the fire 
that vivifies all things, He is a greater physician 
still than them." 

All Paris hears the news and is hushed. The 
people raise their hats and step lightly as they 
pass the door of his home. Carriages are turned 
aside at the street corners, and no sound is allowed 
to disturb the rest and slumber of the patient. 

Crowds gather at nightfall and stand until the 
morning dawns, waiting to hear the reports from 
the sick man's chamber. The king sends twice a 
day to inquire about him. Desmonlins fears that 
Louis will call in person, and thus secure the 
idolatry of the people. The Assembly is hourly in- 
formed of his condition. Barnave heads a delega- 
tion to convey the sympathy of his colleagues. 
The contemptible Lameth refuses to serve on the 
committee. " I knew him to be a knave," said 
Mirabeau, " but I did not think him a fool." 

He is informed of the debates in the Conven- 
tion and specially in relation to foreign diplomatic 
questions. " Pitt," he says, " is the minister of 
preparations. He governs by what he menaces 
rather than by \vhat he actually does, if I live, I 
will give him some trouble." 

The fever consumes him, but his intellect is still 
clear. " Come and shave me," he says to his valet, 
" and bathe me and dress me carefully and com- 
pletely. Open the windows and let me gaze once 
more on the flowers and the sky." Looking at 
the sun, he exclaims, " If it be not God, it is His 

When they tell him of the silent, sympathizing 


throng in the street below, he remarks : " Oh ! it is 
well to devote one's life to the people. It is well 
that I should have given them my whole life." 
" I shall die to-day," he says, turning to his physi- 
cian, Cabanis. " All that can now be done is to 
envelop one's self in perfumes, to crown one's self 
with flowers, to surround one's self with music, that 
one may sink quietly into everlasting sleep." 

The priest of the parish calls to offer his minis- 
trations, but Mirabeau smilingly says that he 
would gladly admit him if it were not that he 
has in his house his ecclesiastical superior, the 
Archbishop of Autun. Talleyrand giving absolu- 
tion, God save the mark ! 

His aged mother calls, but is turne 1 from the 
door. This is without his knowledge, but, in truth, 
she deserves but little better treatment. 

" Hold this head," he says to Frochot, " the 
greatest in France, I wish I could bequeath it to 

He hands to Talleyrand a manuscript speech on 
wills, to be read in the Assembly after his death. 
"It will be rather a joke," he says, "to hear a 
speech against wills from a man who is dead and 
who has made his own." 

Turning to his friend, La Marck, he exclaims: 
" I carry in my heart the dirge of the monarchy. 
After my death, its remains will be the spoil of the 

" Well, my dear connoisseur of courageous 

deaths," he says, again addressing his friend, 

"are you satisfied with me?" The answer given 

is not recorded. Falling into a sleep, he is sud- 



denly aroused by the booming of cannon. 
"What!" he exclaims; "have we already the 
funeral of Achilles?" 

"You have promised to spare me needless suf- 
fering," he says to his friends, " and you must 
keep your word and give me opium." They put a 
cup of water to his lips; he seems satisfied. 
" Dormir," he mutters, and the mighty spirit 
sinks to sleep, to rest. The doctor feels his pulse 
and, in a whisper, says, lest he should disturb the 
sleeper: " II ne souffre plus," his agony is over. 

" He dramatized his death," was the apt ex- 
pression of Talleyrand. The scene was set, as .f 
upon a stage; it was theatrical to a degree. The 
actor forgot no detail, he played his part impres- 
sively, he had all France for an audience. Mira- 
beau, in his death, tried to win the applause of 
mankind rather than to secure the forgiveness of 
heaven. It was the death of a pagan without 
hope, without remorse, without a prayer for 

He died in the forty-second year of his age, 
in a period that should have been the very vigor 
of his life, " in bold manhood's hardy prime." 
" But he lived," says Brougham, " in times when 
each week staggered under the load of events that 
had formerly made centuries to bend, and he thus 
lived long enough to show all that he could have 
attained if his life had been prolonged to the usual 

When the news of his death was announced, all 
classes were affected. The city was hushed. Men 
spoke in whispers : " Mirabeau is dead !" 


The Assembly adjourned its sittings after de- 
ciding that the delegates should attend the funeral 
in a body. The municipality ordered an eight 
days' mourning. The Jacobins passed commenda- 
tory resolutions; directed that his bust in marble 
should be erected, and that the second of April 
should ever be observed in commemoration of the 
anniversary of his death. 

Preparations were made for a magnificent 
funeral, and one more imposing was never wit- 
nessed. A man to have been so honored in death 
must have won the honor by his deeds in life. It 
was a public recognition of his greatness. 

All theatres and places of amusement were 
closed. Balls, parties, and receptions were dis- 
continued, or, if given, the revellers were dispersed 
by the people, who considered all festivities as an 
insult to the national sorrow. On the day of the 
funeral, business was suspended throughout the 

There were some, however, who did not join 
in this almost universal grief, for genius inspires 
envy. Marat, in his scurrilous journal, called 
upon the people to return thanks unto the gods 
because their most redoubtable enemy had fallen. 
" Riquetti is no more!" Robespierre exultingly 
exclaimed : " Achilles is dead ! Then Troy shall 
not be taken." Lameth, vindictive, envious, and 
contemptible, sneered at the people's grief. Petion 
refused to attend the funeral, declaring he had read 
a paper showing Mirabeau's connection with the 
court. Camille Desmoulins denounced, in his 
journal, the public career and political principles 


of Mirabeau, but between the lines could be read 
the kindly words that revealed the tender sympathy 
of Camille's heart. Strange to say, even the court 
felt a sense of relief, and the queen specially was 

It was decreed by the Assembly that the new 
edifice of St. Genevieve should be devoted to the 
reception of the ashes of great men ; that Honore 
Riquetti Mirabeau is judged worthy of receiving 
that honor; that upon the front of the edifice of 
St. Genevieve shall be engraven the words : "Aux 
Grands Hommes La Patrie Reconnaisante." 

Towards the close of the afternoon of the I4th 
of April, the funeral procession started on its way 
to the Pantheon. The discharge of cannon, the 
tolling of bells, the blare of trombones, and the 
low rumbling of muffled drums, announced the 
moving of the column. It was nearly four miles 
in length. One hundred thousand men were in 
line. Slowly and solemnly the procession wended 
its way through the streets. Half a million people 
were spectators ; every foot of available space was 
crowded with uncovered, silent mourners. "All 
roofs were thronged with on-lookers, all windows, 
lamp-irons, branches of trees." 

It was eight o'clock in the evening before the 
Church of St. Eustache was reached. Here a 
solemn high mass was celebrated, with all the 
pomp and solemnity of the Roman ritual. The 
music for the occasion was composed by the cele- 
brated Gossec, and was most touching in its pathos. 
Cerutti delivered a weary eulogium on the dead 
statesman, after which the procession re-formed 


and proceeded to the Pantheon. It was not until 
midnight, under the glare of torches, and with 
the wailing of a dirge, that the cortege reached the 
Church of St. Genevieve, where the body was 
placed alongside that of the great Descartes. A 
salute was fired with twenty thousand muskets, and 
the report shook the city to its very centre. 

The remains were not allowed to rest long 
where a sorrowing people had placed them. 

When the iron chest of Louis XVI. was dis- 
covered after the loth of August, 1792, it revealed 
some of Mirabeau's transactions with the court. 
The Assembly veiled the bust of the great tri- 
bune, and "put his memory under arrest," pend- 
ing a further examination of the papers. 

The National Assembly, in November, 1793, 
after the report of the committee of public inquiry 
was submitted, decreed that " The body should be 
withdrawn from the Pantheon. . . . The same 
day that the body of Mirabeau shall be withdrawn, 
that of Marat shall be there transferred." It was 
meet that the body of the great tribune should be 
removed rather than lie as a neighbor to the in- 
famous Marat. It was not until September 21, 
1794, that the decree was executed. In the dead 
of night, the leaden coffin that contained the ashes 
of Mirabeau was deposited in the cemetery of St. 
Catharine, a graveyard set apart for criminals, in 
the Faubourg of St. Marcel, without any stone or 
tablet to mark the spot. 

The remains of the monster Marat did not abide 
long in the Pantheon, dedicated to the memory of 
great men, for the people in their rage, in 1795, 


dragged the body from the tomb and cast it to the 

At the time of Mirabeau's death, it was rumored 
that he died of slow poison. The public accuser 
for the first Arondissement of Paris demanded 
that a post-mortem examination be made. " The 
violence of the illness, its rapid progress, the sud- 
denness of the dissolution, seem to justify, to a 
certain extent, the supposition that the death of 
M. Riquetti could not be natural. It is deemed 
necessary to proceed to open and examine the 
body and to give all the publicity and authenticity 
possible to that examination." The examination 
was accordingly made and it is said that there 
were forty-four physicians present at the autopsy. 
The finding was that there were no traces of 
poisoning. The story runs that two young physi- 
cians were of opinion that Mirabeau had been 
poisoned, and so expressed themselves, but Pro- 
fessor Sue, one of the doctors present, took them 
aside and whispered : " He was not poisoned, he 
cannot be poisoned, do you understand that, you 
imprudent boys! Would you have them devour 
the king, the queen, the Assembly, and all of us?" 

Of course, at such a time, the public mind had 
to be satisfied, and the temper of the people 

" He was subject," says Thiers, " to frequent 
and sudden fainting fits. Baths containing a solu- 
tion of sublimate had produced that greenish tint 
which was attributed to poison." 

Dumont declares " there was not the slightest 
appearance of poison, and that idea was, therefore, 
27 417 


deemed totally unfounded. The complaint was 
acute enteritis, brought on by excesses." 

To Dumont he said, some time before his death : 
" If I believed in slow poison, I should think my- 
self poisoned ; for I feel that I am dying by inches, 
that I am being consumed in a slow fire." To his 
sister, Madame du Saillant, when she intimated 
that he should be cautious about his eating and 
drinking, he said : " You are right, I feel it, they 
hold me, they will have me." 

In November, 1790, he passed a cup of coffee, 
that had been prepared for him, to his friend 
Pellenc, and that gentleman suffered great pain 
after drinking it. It is said that the same thing- 
happened upon another occasion with Frochot, 
who was taken ill after eating food that had been 
prepared for Mirabeau. The author of the " Me- 
moires d'un Pair de France" asserts that Mira- 
beau was poisoned. He says that Robespierre, in 
1793, at a moment when he was off his guard, 
openly boasted of the part he had taken in the 
crime. ' Two parties," he says, " were then labor- 
ing to accomplish the ruin of the king; a third 
party wished it without declaring itself : all of them 
were concerned to see that Louis XVI. inclined 
to a cordial reconciliation with the constitution, 
and all dreaded the sound advice which Mirabeau 
had it in his power to give him. It was well 
known that this man was the only person capable 
of directing affairs in such a manner as to keep 
the factions within the limits which they hoped to 
pass. As the issue of any attempt to strip him 
of his popularity was uncertain, it was thought 


better to despatch him; but as no assassin was to 
be found, it was necessary to have recourse to 
poison. Marat furnished the recipe; it was pre- 
pared under his supervision, and he answered for 
its effect. How to administer it was the next 
question. At last it was resolved to choose the 
opportunity of a dinner, at which the poisonous 
ingredients should be introduced into the bread or 
wine, or certain dishes of which Mirabeau was 
known to be very fond. Robespierre and Petion 
undertook to see to the execution of this atrocious 
scheme, and were assisted by Fabre d' Eglantine 
and two or three other subordinate Orleanists. 
Mirabeau had no suspicion of this perfidy; but 
effects were manifested immediately after a party 
of pleasure, at which he had indulged in great in- 
temperance. He was soon aware that he was 
poisoned, and told his intimate friends so, and 
especially Cabanis, to whom he said : ' You seek 
the cause of my death in my physical excesses; 
you will find it rather in the hatred borne me by 
those who wish for the overthrow of France, or 
those who are afraid of my ascendancy over the 
minds of the king and the queen.' It was impos- 
sible to drive it out of his head, that his death was 
not natural, but great pains were taken to prevent 
this opinion from getting abroad." 

This story is given in detail and with careful 
exactness as to the facts, but it is hardly probable 
that Robespierre, secretive and reticent as he was, 
would have been so far off his guard as to have 
revealed his personal connection with the crime, as 
well as the names of his co-conspirators. There 


seems to be no authority for this story but the 
memoirs referred to. It is strange that, if it be 
true, it is not known nor vouched for in other 

There were many wretches in France in that 
day who would willingly have made way with 
the great tribune, and no doubt his life was con- 
stantly in peril. There is no question but that 
there were many men who were on intimate terms 
with him who would not have hesitated a moment 
to commit the crime if, in their opinion, their inter- 
ests had required it. 

He frequently received warnings to avoid the 
companionship of certain men, but he totally dis- 
regarded all such injunctions. It is an admitted 
fact that he attended a banquet, given by thirty 
members of the Assembly, at the suggestion of 
Talleyrand, and it is believed by many that at this 
banquet he was poisoned. Prince George of 
Hesse-Cassel heard that an attempt to poison 
Mirabeau was to be made at the banquet and he 
hurried to the house where it was held to warn 
his friend, but he was not allowed to enter nor 
was he permitted to get word to Mirabeau. He 
waited, however, until the banquet was over, when 
he told Mirabeau of his fears. Mirabeau an- 
swered : " It is too late ; the scoundrels are quite 
capable of it, however." Instead of going to a 
doctor, he went to keep an engagement at the 
house of Mademoiselle Coulon, an actress of the 
opera. The next day, March 26, began his fatal 

On the other hand, his utter disregard of every 


rule of health, his prodigality of life, his prodig- 
ious labors, his incontinence, his licentiousness, his 
frequent devotion of the twenty-four hours of the 
day to business and dissipation, were gradually 
destroying him. He challenged death and reck- 
lessly provoked its darts. No constitution, no mat- 
ter how robust, could withstand abuse so con- 
stant. He made draughts upon its strength by 
night as well as by day. He unquestionably did 
enough to hasten his dissolution without the aid 
of poison. " Had I not lived with Mirabeau," 
said Dumont, " I never should have known all that 
can be done in one day, or rather in an interval of 
twelve hours. A day to him was of more value 
than a week or a month to others. The business 
which he carried on simultaneously was immense, 
from the conception of a project to its execution 
there was no time lost. To-morrow was not to 
him the same imposter as to most other men." 
And then, " after the long day's work was done,'' 
dissipation followed until dawn. 

The whole matter of the poisoning is involved, 
the testimony is very conflicting, and in reading it 
one can never get beyond a reasonable doubt. To 
decide is simply to guess. 





How are we to draw the portrait of this man 
of immoderate genius and uncontrollable passions ? 

"I am not to be judged by ordinary rules," 
said Napoleon. This apparently impudent but 
really truthful assertion is equally appropriate in 
the case of Mirabeau. He was an exceptional, an 
extraordinary man. His talents, his powers, his 
passions, were gigantic. His genius fitted him for 
great events, for stirring, exciting times. His 
character was dominating, he rose in magnificent 
proportions above all his colleagues; the only 
member of the convention who, in any wise, could 
have approached him, was Danton, and yet the 
latter dwindles when a close comparison is drawn. 
If he had met Danton in debate, he would have 
overwhelmed him; in statesmanship, breadth of 
learning, and mental power, he was far away his 
superior. Barnave in no particular compares with 
him, except as an orator, and yet he had not that 
sublime eloquence born of intense feeling and emo- 
tion that characterized Mirabeau. Maury, keen, 
clever, witty, and sarcastic, was but a gadfly that 
irritated or aroused the anger of the lion. 

In real statesmanship, in comprehension and 
grasp of intellect, Mirabeau stood alone. " He 


was far the strongest best practical intellect of 
that time," declares Carlyle. " He was essen- 
tially," says Stephens, " a practical statesman, and 
that is the reason why his character is so little 
appreciated by Frenchmen." 

In his effort to effect an alliance with La Fayette, 
he urged the queen to tell the General that " he 
(Mirabeau) is the only statesman of this country; 
no one else has his ensemble, his courage, and his 
character." This egotism may be called rather 
blunt, but the statement was, unquestionably, true. 

He had the qualities that fitted him for public 
life. In a letter to Mauvillon, in his own charac- 
teristic style, referring to himself, he says : " Be- 
hold at last a Frenchman who is born with the 
soul, the head, and the character of a public man !" 

Audacious, daring, imperious, he was a mas- 
ter among his fellows. In exigencies, his self- 
possession never deserted him, and in short debate 
he was invincible. Under attack and when aroused 
the whole force and vigor of his intellect came into 
play; the resources upon which he drew seemed 
to be almost inexhaustible, and he never rose to 
greater heights than when spurred by opposition. 
When assailed, and apparently discomfited, he 
returned to the attack with renewed vigor and 
astounded and dismayed his opponents by the 
logic and force of his argument. He had the 
faculty of clearly expressing the truth in a simple 
phrase and answering his adversary by a clever 

His knowledge of human nature was profound ; 
his prescience was the vision of prophecy. 


Impulsive and impetuous, he was yet controlled 
by a sound, an intelligent judgment. 

As statesman, politician, author, orator, and 
lover, he was ever the same. He wooed a woman 
as he won a cause. His intellect, his heart, and 
sympathies were his only means in any contest. 
Such a man but needed an opportunity to become 
great, and the Revolution gave him that oppor- 

He was a born tribune of the people. Ever con- 
scious of his strength, he inspired enthusiasm in 
his followers. 

If he could have secured the confidence of the 
king and had been placed in the ministry, before 
he was suspected of venality, the Revolution might 
have avoided its excesses and have secured its 
reforms without destroying the monarchy. 

To understand the character of such a man, 
we must take his life as a whole. We must judge 
him by considering his early education, associa- 
tions, and surroundings, his opportunities, tempta- 
tions, and struggles, as well as his natural faculties, 
temperament, and passions. That which is no 
temptation to one man, may require a bitter, an 
heroic struggle for another to resist. We must, 
too, bear in mind the morals and the sentiments of 
the age in which he lived. Without forgiving his 
vices, we may then find, at least, some excuse or 
extenuation for them. 

The father of Mirabeau was a tyrant, and his 

example was most pernicious. Acrid, unforgiving 

in disposition, the marquis made the early years of 

his son's life most unhappy, most miserable. 



Mirabeau saw his mother depart from her home 
charged with infidelity, and then saw his father 
put another woman in her place, a woman, too, 
who was the wife of another man. He had wit- 
nessed the daily, constant bickerings between his 
parents, who fought like wild-cats, and he had not 
the love of either; an impulsive, a spirited boy, 
whose character should have been most carefully 
moulded, had neither the care of a father nor the 
tender affection of a mother. He saw a younger 
brother caressed while he was pushed aside, and 
was disgraced by being compelled to bear a name 
other than his lawful title. He was induced, from 
the most sordid motives on the part of his father, 
to marry an heiress whom he did not and could 
not love. He had been taught to maintain the 
pride of a nobleman, and was compelled to live on 
an amount that was little more than the salary of 
a coachman. His wife, silly and homely, made 
him a cuckold, and for an offence that should 
have been reprimanded and forgiven, he was 
arrested under a lettre dc cachet, obtained by his 
father, and thrown into a dungeon. Naturally 
affectionate and sympathetic, he had found no one, 
up to this time, to respond to his heart's desires. 
Is it a wonder that, under these wretched condi- 
tions, his morals became lax? The age in which 
he lived was sceptical, immoral, and vicious. Most 
of the young men in his class were roues and 
proud of their vices. The court, with the excep- 
tion of the king, who had a reason for his virtue, 
was luxurious and voluptuous. The honor of 
women was held in low esteem; the example set 


by the nobility, and even by many of the higher 
clergy, lowered the moral tone of the whole nation. 

In view of all this, it is but fair to measure 
Mirabeau by a rule not too exacting. We must 
consider the early influences that controlled his 
life and the prevailing conditions of society if we 
desire to do him justice. He knew what his vices 
had cost France ; he knew how much they lessened 
his influence, and time and again he bitterly re- 
pented, once remarking: " If I only had the vir- 
tues of Malesherbes, how useful I could be to my 
country !" To La Marck he said : " Oh ! what 
harm the immorality of my youth does to the 
popular cause." Dumont says : " He was so fully 
aware that if he had enjoyed personal considera- 
tion, all France would have been at his feet, that 
there were moments when he would have con- 
sented to pass ' seven times through the heated 
furnace' to purify the name of Mirabeau. I have 
seen him weep with grief and heard him say, 
almost suffocated with sobs, ' I am cruelly ex- 
piating the errors of my youth.' " Only the man 
who has sinned knows how bitter is the agony of 

His passions, his vices, were inherited ; " his sins 
were only half his," one of his biographers has 
said. That the sins of the parents shall be visited 
upon the heads of the children unto the third and 
fourth generations never found a clearer exempli- 
fication of that natural law. 

Gabriel was not the only one in the family who 
was tainted with heredity. In referring to his sis- 
ter, Madame de Chabris, he said the most venial 


of her vices was that she was a wanton. This may 
not have been a kindly remark for a brother to 
make, but it was not far from the truth. His 
brother, Barrel Mirabeau, so named because of 
his intemperance, was a coarse and vulgar de- 
bauchee, who was continually in his cups. When 
reproached by his elder brother for his habitual 
drunkenness, he answered : " It is the only vice 
you have left me." This was a weak excuse, for 
he had all the vices of his brother in addition to 
intemperance, and was without his brother's great 
talents and good traits. 

Mirabeau's life, from his birth until his release 
from the castle of Vincennes, was almost one 
continual torture. His early training, his army 
experience, his unhappy marriage, the hatred of 
his father, his troubles resulting from the unfortu- 
nate seduction of Sophie Monnier, his struggles, 
poverty, and cruel, harrowing imprisonments, were 
enough to break the spirit of even a Mirabeau. 

He was about thirty-two years of age when 
released from Vincennes, and he had but ten years 
of life remaining; and it was only in the period 
extending from May, 1789, to April, 1791, that 
he secured the theatre in which he was to play a 
leading role and prove himself one of the greatest 
men that France ever produced. 

He had had no training at the bar, and yet he 
managed his case at Pontarlier with so consum- 
mate a skill that he baffled and defeated the ablest 
lawyers in Provence, and made one of the greatest 
arguments ever heard in the courts of France. 
And, strange to say, prior to this, he had never 


attempted to try a case nor argue a cause, nor did 
he ever before have an opportunity to cultivate 
the art of forensic speaking. 

When the States General was called, he threw 
himself with all the ardor of his nature into the 
canvass and he displayed superior ability as a 
shrewd politician and as a skilful campaign 
organizer. As an orator on the hustings, his fame 
spread throughout all France. To be sure, he had 
been familiar with public questions, for he had 
deluged the country with his pamphlets upon every 
current topic, and he had had some little experience 
in diplomacy, but as a practical politician and a 
public speaker, he never had any special training 
nor opportunity. He sprang into the arena, how- 
ever, full armed when the tocsin of the Revolu- 
tion sounded. In the Assembly he took a leading 
position from the very start. 

He had studied the English Constitution and 
had familiarized himself with the features and the 
principles of the governments of many European 
states. He knew wherein the government of 
France was defective, and how great were the 
abuses. He could be fairly ranked in the class of 
statesmen before he entered the Assembly, but it 
is marvellous how he so suddenly acquired a power 
as an orator, so commanding, never, so far as I 
can ascertain, making a public address of any 
character until he spoke in the Parliament of 
Provence, when he was thirty-two years of age, 
and never making a political speech until his cam- 
paign in Aix in 1788-89, less than three years 
before his death. Perhaps, as an orator, France 


never produced his equal. He possessed an im- 
passioned eloquence, an eloquence that was easily 
excited, and his manner at all times was most 

" His voice," says Dumont, " was full, manly, 
and sonorous; it filled and pleased the ear. Al- 
ways powerful, yet flexible, it could be heard as 
distinctly when he lowered as when he raised it. 
He could go through all its notes with equal ease 
and distinctness, and he pronounced his finals with 
so much care that the last syllable was never lost." 

" His oratory," says Madame de Stael, " had 
a power of life." Another writer says : " His elo- 
quence, imperative as law, is only the gift of im- 
passioned reasoning." " All his contemporaries," 
says Victor Hugo, " are unanimous on this point, 
he was something magnificent." " It was by 
Mirabeau," says Brougham, " that the people were 
first made to feel the force of the orator; first 
taught what it was to hear spoken reason and 
spoken passion; and the silence of ages in those 
halls was first broken by the thunder of his voice 
echoing through the lofty vaults now covering 
multitudes of excited men." 

Mirabeau did not disdain the artificial, for there 
was much of it about him, but when in the torrent 
and tempest of his passion he lost all self-con- 
sciousness, he then rose to the heights of sublime 
eloquence. His imagination was fertile, his fancy 
lively, his wit nimble, his perception clear, and his 
memory extensive. His fiery eloquence threw off 
his thoughts like sparks from an anvil. His sar- 
casm was cutting and he used it without economy. 


His scorn was withering. In denunciation he was 
terrific, and his anger, when aroused, was con- 
suming, and bore down all opposition before it. 
"Anger suited this man as the tempest does the 
ocean." When in heated debate he had the head 
of Medusa, and petrified his assailants. His 
eloquence was like his visage, rough-hewn but 

His personal appearance had its advantages. 
;< You know not," said he, " all the power of my 
ugliness; when I shake my terrible locks, no one 
dares interrupt me." " When he talked of con- 
fronting his opponents in the Assembly," says 
Walter Scott, " his favorite phrase was, ' I will 
show them La Hure,' that is the boar's head, 
meaning his own tusked and shaggy countenance." 

" His ugliness was so great as almost to be- 
come proverbial, and features naturally harsh and 
even distorted were rendered still more repulsive 
by the deep furrows of the confluent smallpox. . . . 
The power of his eye, however, was undeniable, 
and the spirit and expression which his mind threw 
into all his countenance made it how plain soever 
anything rather than uninteresting or disgusting." 

Such a man, when he mounted the tribune, tall, 
broad-shouldered, with the neck of a bull, the mane 
of a lion, his head tossed back, his strong features 
lively, and animated in expression, would at 
once command attention. 

Dumont says " his ordinary manner of speak- 
ing was ve.y slow. He began with the appearance 
of a little embarrassment, often hesitated but in a 
way to excite interest, and until he became ani- 


mated, he seemed as if he were selecting the most 
agreeable expressions." 

It is difficult to judge of the real merits of an 
orator of a past age. What would suit one period, 
might be out of fashion in another. Mirabeau 
was essentially the orator of a revolution. His 
earnest and impassioned eloquence was specially 
adapted to a convention swayed by emotions and 
controlled by excitement, in a time of great politi- 
cal convulsions. Mirabeau's inflammatory oratory 
would have been as much out of fashion in the 
English parliament of the time of Peel, as Peel's 
oratory would have been out of place in the 
National Assembly of France. 

There is no one, of his period, in France, with 
whom we can compare him. The French Revolu- 
tion was an age of eloquence, for the minds of men 
were afire, their enthusiasm was aflame, and the 
Assembly was filled with orators; but Mirabeau, 
in his lofty eagle-flights, soared far above them all. 
" As a political orator, Mirabeau was, in certain 
points, superior to all other men. No other orator 
did so much with a single word, nor hit the mark 
with so sure an aim. In the tribune he was im- 
movable. He remained master of his temper even 
under the severest personal attacks." 

Dumont says : " Mirabeau, as an orator, is be- 
low Demosthenes, Cicero, Pitt, and Fox." There 
is often a little envy lurking in the criticisms of 
Dumont, and perhaps a man is never great to his 
valet. But if these four great world-orators had 
to be chosen by Dumont as the only orators be- 
neath whom Mirabeau stands, it is honor enough 


for the proudest man. And yet it is a question 
whether or not any one of them could have exerted 
by his eloquence such an influence as Mirabeau 
did exert in the National Assembly. 

Demosthenes, who is said to have had almost 
superhuman force, stands in a class by himself. 
It seems almost sacrilege to compare anybody with 
him. There must be one great master of the art 
to whom the world accords first honor. Demos- 
thenes, in his class, like Angelo and Shakespeare in 
their respective classes, is far beyond all criticism, 
and is removed from the challenge of comparison. 
To say seriously that an orator is not so great as 
Demosthenes, is almost to admit that, with but 
one exception, he is the greatest. 

Cicero's style was more polished, more scholarly, 
than Mirabeau's, but he was wanting in those per- 
sonal qualities that made Mirabeau one of the 
greatest, one of the most impressive, of the world's 
popular orators. They are in different schools and 
cannot be compared, but not for the reason given in 
the case of Demosthenes. There may be the same 
difference between Cicero and Mirabeau that the 
ancients said there was between Demosthenes and 
Cicero. When Cicero finished speaking, every one 
exclaimed: "What a great orator!" When 
Demosthenes ceased, the people shouted : " Let us 
make war on Philip." 

If Dumont refers to the younger Pitt, it is safe 
to say that his easy flowing, monotonous " state- 
paper style," without fire, would hardly have been 
heeded in the stormy debates of the Revolution. 
He did not, in any sense, possess the emotional 


eloquence of the great tribune. He was an orator 
of the head alone, not of the heart. 

Fox was perhaps stronger in logical reasoning 
than Mirabeau. In argument, especially in reply, 
the English orator was subtle and unanswerable. 
His voice was husky, his manner awkward, and his 
gestures graceless, but as he warmed to his theme, 
he became impassioned to such a degree that often 
his words choked his utterance. But he did not 
possess the tumultuous eloquence of Mirabeau, nor 
his impressive, dramatic manner. They had much 
in common in their lives. Fox was a spend- 
thrift, a gambler, and wasted his nights in dissipa- 
tion. His prodigality ran beyond all bounds, and, 
like Mirabeau, he burned the candle at both ends. 
They had many qualities in common. 

Macaulay, in drawing a comparison between 
Mirabeau and Chatham, says : " His eloquence, so 
far as we can judge of it, bore no inconsiderable 
resemblance to that of the great English minister. 
He was not eminently successful in long set 
speeches. He was not, on the other hand, a close 
and ready debater. Sudden bursts, which seemed 
to be the effect of inspiration; short sentences, 
which came like lightning, dazzling, burning, 
striking down everything before them; sentences 
which, spoken at critical moments, decided the fate 
of great questions; sentences which at once be- 
came proverbs, in these chiefly lay the oratorical 
power both of Chatham and of Mirabeau. There 
have been far greater speakers and far greater 
statesmen than either of them, but we doubt 
whether any men have, in modern times, exercised 
28 433 


such vast personal influence over stormy and 
divided assemblies." 

In considering the qualities of Mirabeau, is it 
not closer to the truth to say that although he had 
the sudden bursts of inspiration, the withering, 
burning sentences that characterized the oratory of 
Chatham, he had to a more marked degree the 
power and eloquence of the " Great Agitator." 
Daniel O'Connell? The Irish orator was like 
Mirabeau, tall, broad-shouldered, herculean in 
frame. " His early sins and excesses had been 
royal in their extravagances." He thought and 
spoke in epigrams. His words came red-hot from 
his emotions. His soul was volcanic. Tumult and 
whirlwind and earthquake suited his temperament. 
He was dramatic in manner ; he possessed declam- 
atory energy and defiant courage. His voice, equal 
to every demand made upon it, was flexible and 
powerful, capable of expressing every emotion, 
and was terrible in denunciation. He was fear- 
less, audacious, and ever conscious of his strength. 
Easily aroused by opposition, all his talents came 
into play at once. He was a born agitator, a revo- 
lutionist. He would have been a power in the 
National Assembly of France. He was equally 
at home on the hustings or in the Senate. He had, 
to a superlative degree, the qualities of a popular 
orator, and he declaimed, with all the ardor of his 
nature, against oppression and denounced injustice 
of every form. 

In nicknames, Mirabeau was most happy. In 
two words he could describe a man in stronger 
light than could a page of labored detail. O'Con- 


nell also had this faculty to a remarkable degree. 
Mirabeau called d'Espremenil, " Crispin-Catilina," 
and designated La Fayette, " Grandison-Crom- 
well." He accused the latter, because of his love 
of popularity, of desiring only " the glory of 
gazettes." These remind us of O'Connell's " Scor- 
pion-Stanley" and " Spinning-Jenny Peel." In re- 
ferring to the cold smile of the latter statesman, 
he said it was like " the silver plate on a coffin." 

In many particulars, so far as the style or 
character of his oratory is concerned, the " Great 
Agitator" of Ireland resembled the " Great Tri- 
bune" of France, perhaps more closely than any 
of the English orators. It will, however, I am 
sure, be admitted without speaking invidiously, 
that Mirabeau had a much finer intellect than 
O'Connell, and far greater qualities as a statesman. 

It is a difficult task to compare orators, for elo- 
quence comes in so many different forms. Elo- 
quence is not circumscribed by rules, nor does it 
depend upon the tone of voice, nor the grace of 
gesture. It may be like the sound of a trumpet or 
the screech of an owl. It is the earnest expression 
of emotion, it is the highest expression of sincerity, 
it is the heart's desire revealed in words. It per- 
suades, convinces, fascinates. It may arouse the 
passions or allay them. It is in the vigorous, force- 
ful style of a Demosthenes, or the graceful sen- 
tences of a Cicero; in the wild frenzy of a Peter 
the Hermit, or the polished diction of a Bossuet; 
in the screaming, stuttering utterances of a Des- 
moulins, or the impassioned, winged words of a 
Mirabeau. It may lie dormant in every soul, only 


waiting to be awakened when a great truth is to 
be told or a cause defended. 

The real eloquence of a speech is to be judged by 
the effect produced at the time of its delivery, 
and if this be the test, then Mirabeau must stand 
in the very front rank of the world's greatest 

Not only was Mirabeau great in the tribune, but 
his interruptions while in his seat or on the floor 
went straight to the point. M. Valfond charged 
him with running through the streets on the 6th 
of October, swinging a sabre and inciting the mob 
to riot. The testimony, however, pointed to 
M. Gamaches as the man who had waved the 
sabre. Mirabeau immediately remarked that 
" Gamaches must be an exceptionally ugly man in 
view of the fact that he was taken for me." 

Upon one occasion the National Assembly pro- 
posed an address to the king in these words : " The 
Assembly brings to the feet of your Majesty an 
offering," etc. " Majesty has no feet," grumbled 
Mirabeau. At another time, the National Assem- 
bly, in an address, said : " It is intoxicated with 
the glory of its king." " Really," said Mirabeau, 
" people who make laws should not admit that they 
are intoxicated." "Dull as to-day's debate," cried 
a speaker. "Why specify to-day? Pourquoi 
dater?" responded Mirabeau. 

" Speak not to me of your Duke of Savoy, a 
bad neighbor to all liberty," he growled, address- 
ing the ministers. When some one suggested that 
La Fayette had his army, " Yes," spoke up Mira- 
beau, " but I have my head." 


"The court is starving the people. Treason," 
he cried; "the people will sell it the constitution 
for bread." 

On October 22, 1789, the king made an offer of 
his gold and silver plate to help relieve the wants 
of the people. The Right applauded such gener- 
osity on the part of his Majesty, and some mem- 
bers, in expressing their admiration, wept. " As 
for me," Mirabeau muttered, " I do not become 
tearful over the family plate of the great." 

Mirabeau, when in his seat in the Assembly, was 
restless and deeply interested in all that was going 
on. He wrote and passed notes to fellow depu- 
ties, made points on the debates, applauded the 
speakers, for no one was more generous than he 
in recognizing merit; he was so big himself that 
it never occurred to him to be chary in his appre- 
ciation and recognition of real worth. 

Upon one occasion, the Archbishop of Aix was 
so eloquently defending his order that he com- 
manded the applause of even his opponents. Mira- 
beau most heartily applauded, but cried out that he 
could applaud his talent without adopting his 

He had a contempt for mediocrity that was vain 
or boastful; he despised sham and he never hesi- 
tated to interrupt an orator who was simply 
" vaporizing." 

As a writer, his works abound in thought, but 
the style is at times commonplace and confused. 
He appears to write as if thinking too fast for 
his pen, and the thought often seems only half ex- 
pressed. His works have no labored polish, they 


are rough-hewn; nor do they suggest, as a rule, 
any trace of careful revision. u His ideas are ever 
grand and lofty," says Victor Hugo, " but to get 
out of his brain, they have to stoop and shrink as 
if under a door too low." 

At the beginning of the Revolution, he unques- 
tionably stood high in the world of letters. Arthur 
Young, in referring to him, says : "In every com- 
pany of every rank, you hear of the Count of 
Mirabeau's talents, that he is one of the first pens 
of France." 

He had written upon current topics of interest. 
He was a political writer, a pamphleteer ; he wrote 
for the occasion. Hence, his writings have but 
little interest for the reader of to-day. In our 
times, he would have found his calling in journal- 
ism. There is nothing he wrote that would sug- 
gest his candidacy for admission to the French 
Academy, but we must remember in judging his 
work that he wrote to replenish his purse, or in the 
midst of political excitement, and only upon cur- 
rent questions. His work on the Bank of St. 
Charles, a book of three hundred pages, was writ- 
ten in eight days. To be sure, he borrowed much 
of his material from his friends, Claviere and 
Hrissot, but he wrought the matter into shape and 
made it his own in a little more than a week. 

Another point not to be lost sight of is the fact 
that his oratory was of so high an order that we 
are tempted, in judging one talent, to measure it 
by the standard of the other, and his literary work, 
necessarily, falls below his reputation as an orator. 

The following letter to the king of Prussia is 



full of practical, worldly, and political wisdom, and 
is a fair sample of his style. It is written with 
more than his usual care. It could safely and 
wisely be adopted as the text-book of kings : 

" You have reached the throne at a fortunate 
period. The age is becoming daily more en- 
lightened. It has labored for your benefit in col- 
lecting sound notions for you. It extends its in- 
fluence over your nation, which so many circum- 
stances have kept behind others. Everything is 
now tested by a severe logic. The men who see 
only a fellow-creature under the royal mantle, and 
require that he should possess some virtue, are 
more numerous than ever. Their suffrages cannot 
be dispensed with. In their opinion, one kind of 
glory alone remains, every other is exhausted. 
Military success, political talents, wonders in art, 
improvements in science, have all appeared in turn, 
and their light has blazed forth from one extremity 
of Europe to the other. That enlightened benevo- 
lence which gives form and life to empires has not 
yet appeared, pure and unmixed, upon a throne. 
To you it belongs to place it there, this sublime 
glory is reserved for you. Your predecessor gained 
battles enough, perhaps too many ; he has too much 
fatigued Fame's hundred tongues and exhausted 
military glory for several reigns, nay, for several 
centuries. . . . With much greater facility, you 
may create a glory more pure and not less brilliant, 
which shall be wholly your own. Frederick con- 
quered the admiration of mankind, but he never 
won their love. This love you may entirely possess. 

" Do not, ah ! do not neglect the treasure which 


Providence has spread in your path. Deserve the 
blessings of the poor, the love of your people, the 
respect of Europe, and the good wishes of wise 
men. Be just, be good, and you will be great 
and happy. 

" You wish to obtain, dread sir, the title of 
Great, but you wish to receive it from the mouth 
of history and from the suffrage of ages to come, 
you would despise it from the mouths of your 
courtiers. If you do that which the son of your 
slave could do ten times a day better than yourself 
they will tell you that you have performed an ex- 
traordinary action! If you suffer your passions to 
mislead you, they will say that you are right! If 
you are as lavish of the blood of your subjects 
as of the waters of your rivers, again will they 
tell you that you are right ! If you barter for gold 
the air that preserves life, they will say that you 
are right! If you revenge yourself, you who are 
so powerful, they will continue to tell you that 
you are right ! . . . They said the same thing when 
Alexander, in a drunken fit, plunged his dagger 
into the bosom of his friend; they said the same 
thing when Nero murdered his mother. . . . 

" If you indefatigably perform your duties, with- 
out putting off till the following day the burden of 
the present day; if by great and fruitful principles 
you can simplify these duties and reduce them 
within the capacity of a single man; if you give 
your subjects all the freedom they can bear; 
if you can protect every kind of property and 
facilitate useful labor; if you terrify petty oppres- 
sors, who, in your name, would prevent men from 


doing, for their own advantage, that which injures 
not their fellows, a unanimous shout will bless 
your authority and render it more sacred and more 
powerful. Everything will then be easy for you, 
because the will and the strength of all will be 
united to your own strength and your own will, 
and your labor will become every day less severe. 
Nature has made labor necessary to man. It gives 
him also this precious advantage, that change of 
labor is to him not only a relaxation, but a source 
of pleasure. Who, more easily than a king, can 
live in strict accordance with this order of nature? 
A philosopher has said ' no man feels such lassi- 
tude of spirit as a king.' He should have said, 
' a slothful king/ How could lassitude of mind 
fall upon a sovereign who did his duty? Could 
he ever keep up his vigor of intellect and preserve 
his health so well as by shielding himself, under 
the pursuit of labor, from the disgust which every 
man of sense must feel among those idle talkers, 
those inventors of fulsome praises, who study their 
prince for no other purpose than to corrupt, blind, 
and rob him? Their sole art is to render him in- 
different and feeble, or else impatient, rude, and 
idle. . . . Your subjects will enjoy your virtues, 
which alone can preserve and improve their patri- 
mony. Your courtiers will cultivate your defects, 
by which alone they can support their influence 
and their expectations. ... It is worthy of you 
not to govern too much. . . . 

" I recommend the immediate abolition of mili- 
tary slavery, that is to say, the obligation imposed 
upon every Prussian to serve as a soldier from 


the age of eighteen years to sixty and more ; that 
dreadful law arising from the necessities of an 
iron age and a semi-barbarous country; that law 
dishonoring a nation without whom your ancestors 
would have been nothing but slaves, more or less 
decorated with empty honors. This law does not 
produce you a single soldier more than you would 
obtain by a wiser system, which may enable you to 
recruit the Prussian army in a manner that shall 
elevate men's hearts, add to the public spirit, and 
possess the forms of freedom, instead of those 
of brutishness and slavery. Throughout Europe, 
more especially in your Majesty's dominions, one 
of the most useful instincts upon which patriot- 
ism could be founded is stupidly lost. Men are 
forced to go to the battle-field like cattle to the 
slaughter-house; whilst nothing is easier than to 
make the public service an object of emulation and 

" Be also the first sovereign in whose dominions 
every man, willing to work, shall find employment. 
Everything that breathes must obtain its nourish- 
ment by labor. This is the first law of nature, 
anterior to all human convention; it is the con- 
necting bond of all society, for every man who 
finds nothing but a refusal to his offer to work 
in exchange for his subsistence, becomes the natural 
and lawful enemy of other men and has a right 
to private war against society. In the country, as 
in cities, let workshops be everywhere opened at 
your Majesty's cost; let all men, of what nation 
soever, find their maintenance in the price of their 
labor; let your subjects there learn the value of 


time and activity. Instruction, you are aware, is 
one of the most important of a sovereign's duties, 
and, likewise, one of his richest treasures. Entire 
liberty of the press ought to be one of your first 
acts, not only because any restraint upon this 
liberty is a hindrance to the employment of natural 
rights, but because every obstacle to the advance- 
ment of knowledge is an evil, a great evil, espe- 
cially for you who are debarred thereby from 
obtaining, through the medium of printing, a 
knowledge of the truth and of public opinion, 
that prime minister of good kings. 

"Let information be circulated through your 
dominions. Read and let others read. If light 
were rising on all sides towards the throne, would 
you invoke darkness? Oh, no; for it would be in 
vain. You would lose too much, without even ob- 
taining the fatal success of extinguishing it. You 
will read, you will begin a noble association with 
books. They have destroyed cruel and disgraceful 
prejudices, they have smoothed the road before 
you, they have served you even before you were 
born. You will not be ungrateful towards the 
accumulated works of beneficent genius. 

" You will read and protect those who write ; 
for without them what becomes of the human 
species, ana what would it be ? They will instruct, 
they will assist, they will talk to you without seeing 
you. Without approaching your throne, they will 
introduce there the august truth. This truth will 
enter your palace alone, without escort and without 
affected dignity; it will bear neither title nor 
ribands, but will be invisible and disinterested. 


" You will read, but you will be desirous that 
your subjects should also read. You will not think 
you have done all by recruiting your academies 
from foreign countries : you will found schools, 
you will multiply them, especially in country 
places, and you will endow them. You would not 
reign in darkness, and you will say, ' Let there 
be light !' The light will burst forth at your voice ; 
and its halo, playing round your brow, will form a 
more glorious ornament than all the laurels won 
by conquerors. . . . 

" I trust, dread sir, that my candor will not dis- 
please you. Meditate on these respectful lines and 
say: This is what will never be admitted to me 
as true, and is the very reverse of what I shall be 
told every day. The boldest offer to kings nothing 
but veiled truths, whilst here I see truth quite 
naked. . . . This is far preferable to that venal 
incense with which I am suffocated by versifiers 
and panegyrists of the Academy, who seized upon 
me in my cradle and will scarcely leave me when 
I am in my coffin. I am a man before I am a 
king. Why should I be offended at being treated 
as a man? Why should I be offended with a 
foreigner, who wants nothing of me, and will soon 
quit my court never more to see me, for speaking 
to me without disguise? He points out to me that 
which his eyes, his experience, his studies, and his 
understanding have collected ; he gives me, with- 
out expectation of reward, those true and free coun- 
sels of which no condition of man is so much in 
want as kings. 1 Te has no interest in deceiving me, 
and can have none but good intentions. . . . Let 


me examine attentively what he proposes ; for the 
mere common sense and the candor of a man who 
has no other pursuit than the cultivation of his 
reason and his intellect, may, perhaps, be as good 
as the old routine and trickery and forms and 
diplomatic illusions and the ridiculous dogmas of 
statesmen by profession." 

Mirabeau possessed the talents that would have 
enabled him to secure a high position among the 
literary characters of his country, but he had not 
the opportunity, nor perhaps had he the inclina- 
tion, to retire from the excitements of the world to 
devote himself to an extended work. He wrote 
for an immediate purpose, to accomplish an im- 
mediate result, and generally wrote under the in- 
spiration or the necessities of the moment. 

Lord Brougham, in commenting on the literary 
ability of Mirabeau, writes : " The Essai sur le 
Despotisme, his earliest political production, is a 
work of extraordinary merit; and the Consider- 
ations sur I' Agiotage, and the essay on Lettres 
de Cachet, may probably be esteemed his best 
tracts. But we are here speaking of those writings 
which partake not of the oratorical character; for 
to estimate his genius we must look at the sudden 
and occasional productions of his pen which re- 
semble speeches more than books, and which, in- 
deed, though never spoken, belong far more to the 
rhetorical than the literary or scientific class of 
writings. Among these the celebrated Reponse 
aux Protestations des Possedant Fiefs, published 
in February, 1788, and written, as it were, off- 
hand, justly deserves the highest place; and it 


would be difficult to match it in the history of 
French eloquence." 

As a statesman, he stood unrivalled in all France, 
in his day and generation. He was well informed 
on current public questions and familiar with the 
forms, the theories, and the principles of govern- 
ment. He had a constructive intellect and was a 
good administrator. He had the qualities that go 
to make a successful politician. He had a genius 
for politics, for public life. He had a marked 
capacity for detail and possessed great organizing 
and executive ability. He had those shining, 
brilliant talents that win popularity, and that power 
that inspires confidence. He had a profound 
knowledge of human nature. He was a good 
judge of men and could fathom the motives that 
controlled them. He could soon discover their 
weak points and knew how to reach them through 
their vanity, greed, or ambitions. He was not par- 
ticular in his choice of means in obtaining his ends. 
He was crafty and unscrupulous in political nego- 
tiations. He was, however, not always tactful, for, 
at times, he was too outspoken in his denunciation 
of men. His criticisms, though accurate, were 
frequently very severe, and he often made enemies 
where he might have made friends. 

He was intensely patriotic, he loved France de- 
votedly. He was always a monarchist; although 
a revolutionist, he was not a republican. If it had 
been in his power he would have created and 
strongly established upon an enduring foundation 
of justice and humanity a government in which 
the people would have enjoyed liberty, and whose 


ruler, a king, would have been restrained in the 
exercise of his authority by constitutional limita- 
tions. Mirabeau had risked all in his desire and 
efforts to destroy tyranny, to correct abuses, to 
abolish privileges, to equalize taxes, to define 
duties, to secure rights, and to promote the welfare 
of the common people. He boldly encouraged 
revolution until revolution accomplished its pur- 
pose, which purpose was the liberty of the people, 
not the destruction of the state, but its preserva- 
tion under the forms of law. He died at a time 
when the people, escaping from despotism, were 
beginning to taste the sweets of liberty and to 
think only of avenging past wrongs. Not accus- 
tomed to freedom, nor appreciating its uses and 
blessings, they ran into the most violent excesses. 
They mistook liberty for license. All restraint ap- 
peared to them to have the semblance of tyranny. 
So long had they suffered under a system of rapine 
and fraud that when the restraints were removed 
they went too far in the other direction, which con- 
duct, under all the circumstances, was natural, 
and, in view of what they had endured, we may 
say, was almost excusable. Had Mirabeau lived 
lie would have done all in his power to secure 
peace and order, and to apply to government 
those principles he had so ably and so bravely 

The religious opinions of Mirabeau are not 
hard to define. He, no doubt, if we may judge 
from his speeches, had respect for religion as an 
institution, but it is very certain he had no faith 
in its creeds. It is said that he at one time did 


express a belief in the immortality of the soul. He 
was unquestionably influenced by the philosophic 
tendencies of the age. His remark on his death- 
bed, when looking at the sun, that "if it be not 
God, it is His cousin-german," may rank him 
among the deists or the materialists, but there is 
no reason to enroll him as a Christian, for he gave 
no sign of his faith. He died like a Roman stoic. 
Death to him was sleep, eternal sleep. Mirabeau, 
however, was always tolerant in his views on 

He was an enemy to injustice and tyranny. He 
bitterly opposed the African slave trade, and in a 
most eloquent letter to Wilberforce, written in 
April, 1790, he clearly expresses his views on the 
subject : " I had formed for a long time, Monsieur, 
the intention of addressing you with the confidence 
which two sincere friends of liberty owe to each 
other; but an accident having temporarily de- 
prived me of the use of my eyes, I have been com- 
pelled to postpone from day to day the overture, 
which the invaluable services you have rendered 
to the cause of the negro have encouraged me to 
make. . . . 

" I know the resistance, and even the machina- 
tions, which the rage of the planters will excite 
against my motion and against me individually. I 
know also that I shall incur the censure of many 
honest men in whom the deceptions of interest 
blind humanity. Beyond all this, however, I have 
but one fear and that is the influence of that 
despicable argument, if we abolish the slave 
trade, the English will profit thereby. In vain shall 


I tell them that if I were influenced by those preju- 
dices between nations which have caused the in- 
vention of the odious expression, natural enemies, 
I could not desire for England a privilege more 
fatally exclusive than that of the traffic in negroes. 
In vain shall I demonstrate to them that the sys- 
tem of reciprocity is absurd on its face, because, 
according to the principle thereof, no one should 
trade save with himself. 

" Unhappily, enlightenment has not yet suffi- 
ciently advanced to allow a universal prejudice to 
be combated by the unaided force of reason, and I 
shall lose the greater portion of the well-inten- 
tioned members of the Assembly if I fail to con- 
vince them that England will follow our example, 
or rather concur in the execution of our law, the 
day that we abolish the infamous practice." 

After referring to the position taken by Mr. Pitt 
on the question, the letter continues : " You are 
the friend of Mr. Pitt and that is not one of the 
least rewards of his life. I have not the honor 
of knowing you personally, but you are, if I may 
so speak, the author of the revolution relative to 
the African slave trade I would accomplish in 

' The indefatigable constancy of your labors, 
the efforts and the sacrifices you have made in this 
cause, are the guarantees of your sentiments and 
of your principles. I believe in virtue, Monsieur, 
and I believe beyond everything in yours. 

" I hope that a man who can have no interest 
in this beyond the mere good he would fain accom- 
plish, and who for so many years has been known 

29 449 


by his passion for liberty, by his perseverance in 
opposition to oppression; I hope, I say, that that 
man will inspire you with some confidence. All 
he asks is that you should be useful to the pious 
end which seems your first ambition. Deign to 
secure from Mr. Pitt some assurance that you 
may give me, not for myself, but for my allies, and 
kindly tell me to what extent I may use it. I 
shall be most punctilious, even religious, in the 
observation of whatever shall be prescribed me. 

" I offer also, Monsieur, to submit to you the 
project of the law I intend to propose to the 
National Assembly. Independent of the observa- 
tions your experience and wisdom could enrich me 
with, you will find me ready to adapt my plan to 
your localities, whether in the New World or in 
Africa, in order to make a law corresponding with 

" To conclude, there is nothing which the benefi- 
cent Wilberforce has not a right to expect from 
my deference, from my zeal, and from the respect 
wherewith I remain, Yours, etc." 

This letter was never answered by Wilberforce. 
The explanation for the silence is that Mirabeau, 
1 laving asked that some assurance be given as to 
Pitt's sincerity in his advocacy of the abolition of 
the slave trade, rendered it impossible for Wilber- 
force to reply. 

After sending this letter, Mirabeau prepared 
with great care an oration on the Slave Trade, but, 
unfortunately, never had an opportunity to deliver 
it. It is singularly bold and most eloquent. 

" I am now undertaking," he wrote, " to plead 


before you the cause of a race of men who, en- 
dowed with a fatal pre-eminence among the un- 
fortunate, live, suffer, and die slaves of the most 
detestable tyranny of which history has transmitted 
us accounts. You already know that I speak of 
the slaves of America. 

" I will neither degrade this Assembly nor my- 
self by seeking to prove that the negroes have a 
right to their liberty. You have already decided 
that question, because you have declared that all 
men are born and die equal and free in respect to 
their rights, and it is not on this side of the Atlantic 
that corrupted sophists will dare to assert that the 
negroes are not men." 

Utterances so vigorous in denunciation of slavery 
were not heard even in America at that early date. 
In answer to the statement that the slave trade is 
not an inhuman commerce, he grows warm in his 
wrath, and his eloquence is vivid as he describes its 
inhumanity. " Count for nothing the desolations, 
the incendiaries, the pillages to which it is neces- 
sary to devote the African coast in order to obtain 
the poor creatures at all. Count for nothing those 
who, during the voyage, die or perish in the agony 
of despair." 

He describes the vessel, that " long floating bier," 
as it rolls and lurches on the stormy waves of 
the sea; he pictures the wretches in the ship's 
hold, crowding one against the other, the chains 
galling and tearing their flesh and limbs. Imagine, 
too, what manner of voyage that is of two thou- 
sand, often three thousand, leagues. Insensate 
cupidity has so crowded the space between decks 


that there is no room for passage, and it is neces- 
sary to tread under foot the bodies of the living 
victims in order to remove the dead and the dying. 
"The poor wretches! I see them, I hear them 
gasping for breath ! Their parched and protruded 
tongues paint their anguish and cannot further ex- 
press it. How they gather around the grates, how 
they endeavor to catch a breath of air, even a ray 
of light, in the vain hope of cheering and cooling 
themselves, if only for a moment! The horrible 
dungeon, as it moves, depopulates itself more and 
more day by day; room is given to the victims 
only by the death of half the captives. The most 
revolting plagues accumulating one upon another, 
frustrate, by their ravages, the avarice of the 
dealers in human flesh and blood." How like a 
flame of fire such an orator would have gone 
through America in ante-bellum days! How his 
eloquence would have scorched, would have 
burned, the conscience of the nation! 






MIRABEAU was a remarkable character, as ex- 
traordinary in his vices as in his virtues. There is 
no need to throw a veil over his crimes, they stand 
out so prominently that they cannot be hidden. He 
seems, at times, to be half man, half satyr ; " but 
the Caesars, the Mirabeaus, the Napoleons, seldom 
obey the morals of the porch or the creeds of the 
cloister." If he had possessed, as he wished, the 
virtues of Malesherbes, he would not have been a 
Mirabeau. Gouverneur Morris wrote : " Vices 
both degrading and detestable marked this ex- 
traordinary creature, venal, shameless, and yet 
greatly virtuous when pushed by a prevailing im^ 
pulse." Another writer says: " When the state of 
affairs was urgent, the vicious and corrupt poli- 
tician instantly disappeared, the god of eloquence 
took possession of him, his native land acted by 
him, and thundered by his voice." Romilly, an 
English gentleman of culture and of eminent re- 
spectability, had for Mirabeau the highest regard. 
The Count de la Marck was closely attached to 
him, and between them there existed the warmest 
kind of friendship. La Marck, in referring to his 
friend, said that " the Count of Mirabeau had 


great faults in common with many other men, but 
we rarely find qualities so great and so noble 
united in one individual. ... It is only after con- 
tinuous and intimate intercourse with such a man 
that it is possible to realize of what elevated 
thoughts and of what deep affections we are 

" I never knew a man," said Dumont, " who, 
when he chose, could make himself so agreeable. 
He was a delightful companion in every sense of 
the word, obliging, attentive, full of spirit, and 
possessed of great powers of mind and imagination. 
It was impossible to maintain reserve with him; 
you were forced into familiarity, obliged to forego 
etiquette and the ordinary forms of society, and 
call him simply by his name." 

He charmed Camille Desmoulins, and fascinated 
Danton. In fact, it seemed impossible to come 
under the wand of the magician without being 
impressed and won. He was a monster only to 
those who did not know him. 

He was most forgiving in disposition and nursed 
no. resentments. He was constantly assailed by the 
orators of the Assembly on the Left as well as on 
the Right. He was called a " scoundrel," a " ras- 
cal," an " assassin," an " enemy of peace," a " mon- 
strous babbler," a " shabby fellow." Vile epithets 
were hurled at him in debate. His rising to speak 
was nearly always the signal for a storm. Out- 
side of the Assembly, the journals and the pam- 
phlets tore him to pieces. M. de Champcenetz said 
that " he had the smallpox in his soul." It was 
suggested by M. de Lambesc that " twenty horse- 


men should take him to the galleys." Marat ap- 
pealed to the citizens " to raise eight hundred gib- 
bets, hang all the traitors on them, and at their 
head the infamous Riquetti, the elder." Mirabeau 
took these insults with composure; he was in no 
sense vindictive. When it was proposed in the 
Assembly to prosecute Marat, he refused to con- 
sent, simply saying, " There seems to be a great 
deal of extravagant nonsense published. The man 
who wrote that must have been drunk." But, not- 
withstanding the many bitter attacks made upon 
him by his enemies, "the people which is not envi- 
ous because it is great; the people which knows 
men, although itself a child, the people was for 

He was greatly beloved by his servants. Du- 
mont says they were much attached to him. Upon 
the occasion of the visit of Mirabeau to the Bas- 
tile after its capture, one of his servants who 
accompanied him was told to wait outside while 
Mirabeau went on a tour of inspection into some 
of the gloomy dungeons. * The poor fellow burst 
into tears and conjured me," says Dumont, " to 
keep an eye upon his master" lest some dread- 
ful catastrophe might befall him in that hated 
prison. "The idea of the Bastile was associated 
in the minds of the people with the most sinister 
ideas, and the dead body of the monster still threw 
them into an agony of fear." 

Mirabeau had a valet dc chambre named Teutch 
who was devoted to him. He had been a smug- 
gler, and was a man of extraordinary courage. 
Mirabeau, sometimes impatient or in an irritable 


mood, would kick and thump his valet, " who con- 
sidered these rough caresses as marks of friend- 
ship," and would grow sad and melancholy if he 
were long neglected in the matter of these atten- 
tions. " The despair of this man at Mirabeau's 
death was inconceivable." 

Mirabeau's taste in dress was somewhat vulgar; 
its style was what we would call to-day " flashy," 
but he gave it particular attention. " He was," 
says Dumont, " very recherche in his toilet." 

His friend De la Marck, in describing him, says : 
" He was tall, but at the same time stout and 
heavily built. His unusually large head was made 
to appear larger by a mass of curled and powdered 
hair. His coat buttons were of some brightly 
colored stone, and the buckles of his shoes enor- 
mous. His dress was an exaggeration of the 
fashion of the day and in bad taste. In his eager- 
ness to be polite, he made absurdly low bows and 
began the conversation with pretentious and rather 
vulgar compliments. His manner wanted the ease 
of good society, and this awkwardness was most 
conspicuous when he addressed the ladies. It was 
only when the conversation turned upon politics 
that his eloquence poured forth and his brilliant 
ideas fascinated his audience." 

It must be borne in mind, in this connection, 
that the foregoing description was given by a man 
of the most dignified bearing and accustomed to 
the etiquette and ceremonials of the most polite 
courts of Europe. 

Mirabeau's exaggerations may have been out of 
form according to the rules of etiquette of a cold 


and polished court, but in the exciting and noisy 
sessions of a revolutionary Assembly they found 
their usefulness. 

To convey a further idea of his manner, the fol- 
lowing description by Lord Minto, who had taken 
Mirabeau to visit his family at Bath, will fully 
answer the purpose. He says that " Mirabeau 
frightened his sister-in-law by his vehement, and, 
as he imagined, irresistible attentions; engrossed 
his host from morning to night; wore out Lady 
Elliot's patience by his constant and self-satisfied 
loquacity; terrified her little boy by his caresses, 
and, in fact, made himself so unendurable in a 
fortnight that she insisted that if he visited Minto 
he must lodge with the game-keeper." 

He was essentially a man of the world, a high- 
liver. He loved the pleasures of the table, but he 
was a gourmet rather than a gourmand. He was 
not intemperate in drinking. 

His prodigality was on a magnificent scale. He 
had no appreciation of the value of money. If he 
had only a franc, he spent it like a king, or if he 
had a fortune, he squandered it like a beggar. He 
was as generous as a Timon. 

He was fond of music and loved flowers. He 
spent his Sundays in his gardens at Argenteuil and 
enjoyed the calm of rural solitude. 

His vanity and egotism were inordinate. It is, 
perhaps, impossible that a Mirabeau should not 
know his power and feel his superiority. Egotism 
and conceit are contemptible in a weakling, but 
they are mere incidents in the character of a Mira- 
beau. " He was fond of standing before a large 


pier glass," says Dumont, " to see himself speak, 
squaring his shoulders and throwing back his head. 
He had also the manner of vain men who are fond 
of hearing the sound of their own name and derive 
pleasure from pronouncing it themselves. Thus, 
he would suppose dialogues and introduce himself 
as one of the speakers ; as, for instance, ' The Count 
de Mirabeau will answer that." 

The question as to whether or not Mirabeau, if 
he had li\ed, could have delayed, changed, or 
directed the course of the Revolution, has been by 
many authors most curiously considered. There 
is no stronger proof of the belief in the great- 
ness of Mirabeau than that it is a mooted ques- 
tion whether or not, if he had lived, he could have 
saved the monarchy. The fact that the question 
is considered by thoughtful men shows how great 
is the world's estimate of the power of Mirabeau. 
Over no other leader of the Revolution could such 
a controversy rage. It is one of the highest 
tributes that can be paid to the talents, the in- 
tellect, the genius of the man. 

One writer positively asserts that " had his life 
been spared there is no doubt that the French 
Revolution would have taken another direction, 
and the horrible excesses of the Reign of Terror 
never have blackened the page of French regenera- 
tion. His death was the knell of the French mon- 
archy ; the glory of a long line of kings was buried 
in the grave of Mirabeau." 

" If he had lived," says Dumont, " he might have 
held the Jacobins in check, even if he had not 
crushed them. . . . Mirabeau is the only man of 


whom it might be said that if he had lived the 
destiny of France would have taken a different 

Lord Brougham believed Mirabeau had reached 
that point in the Revolution when it would have 
been impossible for him to carry out the proposed 
plans for the restoration of the monarchy; that his 
venality was known to the people; and that any at- 
tempt on his part to stay the Revolution would have 
marked him as a traitor to the popular cause and 
would have brought down upon his head the execra- 
tions of a deceived people. 

Sir Walter Scott believed that Mirabeau would 
have had to change the course of the Revolution 
in a short time, in view of his suspected bargain 
with the court, or pay the penalty of treason, a 
victim to the vengeance of an infuriated people, to 
the vengeance of the very people who had followed 
him to the grave with sorrow and lamentations. 

Another writer, Willert, declares : " Had Mira- 
beau never existed, the French Revolution would 
probably have run the same course; had his life 
been protracted, the event would have been the 
same, the ruin of the monarchy not less tragic and 

" Not the least of Mirabeau's talents," wrote a 
Parisian journalist on the day of his funeral, " was 
the gift of doing everything in season. He has 
given proof of this at last; he could not have 
chosen a better time to die." 

Hazlitt and Von Hoist are of opinion that he 
died just in the nick of time to save his popularity. 

Victor Hugo says : " He died at the right mo- 


ment. His was a sovereign and sublime head; '91 
crowned it; '93 would have cut it off." 

Hilaire Beloc writes : " Would he have saved, 
re-created, and restored that declining power which 
had once been the framework of the nation? We 
cannot tell. Had he lived, '92 would have shown 

These are all surmises or guesses, of course. No 
one can, with any certainty, tell what would have 
happened had Mirabeau lived, but it is really an 
interesting question to discuss. It must be remem- 
bered in the discussion, however, that the Revolu- 
tion was not the work of one man, it was the result 
of causes, of centuries of causes, of deep-seated 
wrongs, and it is not reasonable to suppose that 
any one man alone could have controlled, directed, 
or diverted its course. But there was a time when, 
if Mirabeau had been properly supported, his plans 
could have saved the throne. 

Mirabeau had proposed plan after plan to the 
king, but every one had been rejected. Mistrust, 
timidity, and indecision stood in the way of con- 
certed action. The queen feared him and the king 
failed him. He had to fight his battle alone, single- 
handed. He had tried to form an alliance with 
Necker, La Fayette, and Bailly, but without avail ; 
lie had consulted with Monsieur and Montmorin, 
but with no favorable, nor even definite, result. He 
had courted the Duke of Orleans, but that con- 
temptible creature proved too weak for any pur- 
pose. He had even made overtures to Bouille. 

Mirabeau had never formed a party, and had no 
party back of him, nor was he at the head of any 


faction; he was too independent in spirit to be a 
mere party man, and too broad to be a factionist. 
His popularity apparently had not diminished, but 
that is a very weak staff to lean upon, and the 
moment his conduct induced the people to believe 
that he was serving the court in return for the pen- 
sion conferred, he would have fallen under public 
censure, and the days were coming when the dis- 
tance was to be short between the mob's censure 
and the scaffold. 

To save the monarchy would have required more 
than intrigue, it would have required force, not only 
of intellect, but of arms. 

After all, perhaps, it is really not a question 
whether Mirabeau could have saved the monarchy, 
but rather a question whether Louis would have let 
him. If any one of Mirabeau's plans had been 
adopted, the throne could have been saved long 
before his death, but every day that was lost in 
vacillation made the matter more difficult of solu- 
tion. There is hardly an instance in all history 
where indecision was directly responsible for so 
great a loss. 

Mirabeau had believed in Revolution for the sake 
of regenerating France, and when he saw the 
throne tottering, he fain would have saved it, but 
it is a grave question whether or not, at the period 
of his death, his cry to " Halt !" could have been 
heard above the noise of the tumult and confusion 
that he himself had helped to create. Perhaps 
no human power at that time could have stayed 
the Revolution, or even directed it into a peace- 
ful channel. It may have been too late to check 


its course. The many pygmies might have pulled 
the giant down if he had attempted to restore the 
throne. Had he lived, however, and gone to the 
scaffold he would have met his fate like a hero, 
like the rest of those men of that eventful period 
whose dauntless courage in the face of death was 
exalted, was sublime. Patrician and plebeian met 
their doom without flinching, in fact, practised 
the amenities of life on the platform of the guillo- 
tine and had the coolness of mind and the loftiness 
of soul to be polite and thoughtful of others even 
on the verge of eternity. Of all of them none 
went to his death more gloriously than Mirabeau 
would have gone. 

At the time of Mirabeau's death, the revolution- 
ary spirit was increasing as well as an opposition 
to the monarchy. The Jacobins were becoming 
more violent in their radicalism, and republicans 
were growing in numbers and influence. The un- 
restrained license of the journals was sowing in 
every direction the seeds of anarchy, and the 
ravings of the demagogues in the clubs, in the 
faubourgs, and at the Palais Royal, were daily 
arousing the bitter passions of the mob; even the 
discipline of the National Guard was gradually be- 
coming demoralized. Perhaps conditions were at 
such a pass that they were beyond all human 

On the other hand, it may be contended that the 
immense popularity of Mirabeau was so firmly 
established, his eloquence so overpowering, his 
energy so prodigious, his resources were so vast, 
that if he had received the proper support, he might 


still have saved the throne and have prevented the 
excesses of the Reign of Terror. 

Robespierre and the little men who came into 
power after the death of Mirabeau might have 
been kept in awe and subjection, or if worse had 
to come, civil war could have been resorted to and 
the king could have fought for his crown and 
throne, which, because of his indecision and pro- 
crastination, he lost, together with his life, without 
a struggle. 

Had Mirabeau lived, he might have saved the 
people from themselves. " That criminal faction 
that trembled before him had no longer a bridle" to 
restrain them. 

If Mirabeau, however, could not have succeeded 
in saving the monarchy, no man, no, not twenty 
men, in all France could have accomplished it. It 
was not his fault that he had failed, it was the fault 
of Louis and his friends. 

" When Mirabeau was dead, all the ulterior 
anarchic projects broke loose." After his death, the 
Revolution was directed by " impotent and perverse 
men," who, when the Titan was overthrown, rose 
into prominence and importance. They had been 
overshadowed by the master, but now they sneaked 
out of their obscurity and, gazing round, not 
finding aught else to do, laid their hands on de- 
struction. The fate of the monarchy was sealed. 
The empire of the Bourbons was doomed; "its 
ruins," as Mirabeau predicted, " soon became the 
prey of the factions;" the lion was dead and the 
jackals crept out of their caves to snarl and snap 
and fight over its decaying carcass. 


There were some men who essayed to take the 
place of Mirabeau, but they signally failed. Wat- 
son says they tried to wear his mantle, but they 
were smothered in it. 

There were many men able to destroy the 
throne, but not one now in all France able to 
save it. The power and the influence of the 
great tribune were gone. His death left a gap 
that was never filled. 

The Revolution swept on its way resistless, en- 
gulfing in its vortex crown, throne, law, and order, 
and evolving in its own time, out of its excesses, 
that peace which results from the exhaustion of 
passion and violence, and, at last, it succeeded in 
establishing upon the ruins of the monarchy and 
the chaos of anarchy a proud and dauntless empire 
with its own plebeian king. 

The Revolution effected a great reformation in 
political conditions throughout the civilized world. 
Its terrible excesses were temporary, its benefits 
were lasting, were durable. The privileged classes 
had endeavored to prevent it; all Europe made a 
combined effort to subdue it, but it was irresistible, 
so long as its enthusiasm continued. The power 
that had created and controlled it was the only 
power that could halt its excesses. It was from 
within, not from without, that the Revolution was 

The history of the first two years of the Revo- 
lution is the history of Mirabeau. We may show 
that, in the early sessions of the Assembly, he was 
not listened to; that many of his measures were 
unsuccessful ; but the spirit of the man dominated, 


nevertheless, the whole convention; he was the 
centre around which the storm raged. 

He was predestined. Nature endowed him with 
greatness of mind and, at the same time, planted 
in his body the germs of its dissolution. It was 
a struggle of the mental and the physical; with 
him it was a constant conflict between mind and 
matter, between right and wrong. " In a word, he 
was a colossus in every respect and there was in 
him a great deal of good, and a great deal of evil." 
His virtues and his vices fed upon each other. His 
intellect and passions were abnormal ; they had to 
be to form such a creature. Energy was his pas- 
sion ; his passion was energy. Judged by the 
standard of other times, he was a monster, but in 
his own day he was the reformer of political abuses. 
His life was in defiance of every moral law, and 
yet he became the support of authority and order 
in government. " He is," writes Von Hoist, " a 
genuine son of his times. Not only their charac- 
teristic, brilliant traits, but their follies and vices, 
have in him a pre-eminent representative." 

Against all obstacles, he rose to the height of 
power, but his reputation, in a great measure, de- 
stroyed his usefulness. If his moral qualities had 
been such as to have inspired confidence, he could 
have accomplished anything. " Impossible !" he 
cried ; " say not that beast of a word to me." 

His vices, shameful as they were, are almost for- 
gotten in our admiration of those marvelous facul- 
ties, that god-like power, that made him one of the 
greatest of the world's great men. " Moralities 
not a few," writes McCarthy, " may shriek out 
30 465 


against him did shriek out against him in his 
day have shrieked out against him since. But 
what is memorable in Mirabeau is the work he 
dreamed and the work he did; not his paganism, 
but his patriotism; not the nights he gave to his 
dancing women, but the days he gave to France." 

" Only two things loved him," says Victor 
Hugo, " a mistress and a revolution ; for the one, 
he broke all domestic ties, for the other, all social 

He was not the Revolution, for he was a man, 
that was an event. But he was its manifestation, 
its incarnation, while he lived. 

He was the orator of a storm and stress period. 
He was the wild sea-bird that heralded the storm 
and, when it broke, he uttered its wild cry. 

He was eloquent because he had suffered. Ex- 
iled, hunted, bastiled, tortured, starved, he had 
become familiar with every phase of human pain 
and anguish. He had felt the pangs of poverty, 
the galling of the prison chain ; he had languished 
in the fetid dampness of the dungeon, and had been 
oppressed by the tyranny of parent and state. A 
spirit less courageous than his would have been 
broken. His sufferings soured him against injus- 
tice, but not against mankind. He was ever cheer- 
ful, ever hopeful. He opposed tyranny in its every 
form. His voice was ever eloquent in advocacy of 
the liberty of man. 

His courage was boundless, he knew not the 

sense of fear. " The sight of the scaffold opposite 

my window," he exclaimed, " would not induce me 

to accept propositions in prison." Obstacles that 



would have made other men despair gave him new 
courage. He strode the earth like a giant, he 
exerted the strength of a giant, and, at last, this 
Hercules reeled and plunged to his death, carrying 
with him the last support, the last hope of the 

The world to-day recognizes his greatness, and 
time will only add to its bulk and stature. The 
perspective brings out into bolder relief those great 
virtues that, in his lifetime, were assailed by envy 
or overshadowed by his vices. 

He helped in the regeneration of France and in 
securing to mankind liberty under constitutional 

His ashes having been buried with pomp and 
ceremony, with the honor and the reverence of a 
grateful people, were afterwards exhumed and 
scattered to the winds, but the fame of the great 
tribune is embalmed forever in the memory of 
men, the world's greatest Pantheon for its 
heroes ! 


Abolition of privileges on August 4, 287 

Abrantes, Duchess d', 334 

Absenteeism, 38 

^Eschines, 302 

Affair of Nancy, 385 

Aiguillon, Duke d', 405 

Aix, 195, 203 

Albigenses, 21 

American Revolution, 94; its effects in France, 94; com- 
pared with French Revolution, 99 

Angelo, 432 

Angely, Regnault de St. Jean d', 306 

Aremberg, Louis d', 337 

Argenteau, Count Mercy d', 338, 339, 356 

Argenteuil, 457 

Army, The, 39 

Artois, Count d', 246, 277, 278 

Assignats, 368 

Auch, Martin d', the only deputy of Third Estate to enter 
protest against Tennis-Court oath, 248 

August 4, 1789, 376 

Aumont, Duke d', 268 


Bacon, 104 

Bailly, 121, 242, 247, 248, 250, 253, 258, 308, 328, 343, 361, 460 

Banquet of the Guards, 311 

Barbier, Advocate, believes one should not concern one's 

self with state affairs, 24 ; says Paris is Jansenist from top 

to bottom, 33 
Barnave, 121, 207, 405, 422 



Bastile, attack on the, 270 ; its capture, 271 ; 376, 455 

Beaumarchais, 76, 100 ; his comedies, " The Barber of Se- 
ville" and " The Marriage of Figaro," 101, 102, 103 

Becket, Thomas a', 20 

Beloc, Hilaire, 460 

Bethune, Duke of, 51 

Blanc, Louis, 307 

Blin, 330, 331 

Bolingbroke on Louis XIV., 61 

Bouille, 344, 460 

Bourrienne, 244, 392 

Breteuil made minister, 259; 274, 277 

Brienne, Lomenie de, named minister, 112; resigns, 113 

Brink, Jan Ten, on character of Robespierre, 233 

Broglie, General de, given command of the troops at Ver- 
sailles, 259; 274, 277 

Broglie, Madame, 207 

Brougham, Lord, 429, 445, 459 

Buffiere, Pierre, name of Mirabeau while at Choquard's 
Academy, 152 

Bull of Pope Pius V., 23 

Burke, Edmund, description of Marie Antoinette, 84 ; his 
friendship claimed by Anacharsis Clootz, 377 

Buzot, 121 


Cabanis, 410, 412, 419 

" ga ira ! Ca ira !" 380 

Calonne appointed minister, 108; called "the enchanter," 
"the model financier," "the ladies' minister," 108; his 
maxim, 109; the deficit, 109; asks Parliament of Paris to 
register a loan, no; urges calling of a meeting of the 
Notables, no; joins in public demand for calling of a 
meeting of the States General, in; resigns, in; con- 
troversy with Necker, 191 

Calvin, 23 

Cambaceres, 244 

Cambon, 302 

'-cries. 41 

Carlyle describes Marquis de Mirabeau, 147; 423 


Catharine II., 359 

" Cavern of Cannibals," 397 

Cazales, 293 

Cerutti delivers eulogy at funeral of Mirabeau, 415 

Chabris, Madame de, 426 

Champcenetz, M. de, 454 

Chapelier, 372, 403 

Charles I. of England, 256 

Chatham, 433 

Choiseul suggests reform to Louis XV., 79 

Choquard, master of school to which Mirabeau was sent, 

151, 153, 154 

Church, rapacity of the, 35 
Cicero, 431, 432, 435 
Claviere, 285, 369, 392 
Clootz, Jean Baptiste, 377 
Clovis, 16 

Compte Rendu, 107 . 
Condition of peasants, 37 
Condorcet, 106 

Confiscation of church property, 367 
Conflict between Church and State, 18, 19, 20 
Conti, Prince de, 152 
Corvee, or statute labor, 42 
Coulon, Mademoiselle, 420 
Covet, Marie Amelie de, 155 
Cromwell, 255 


D'Alembert, 76 
Dante, 133 

Danton, 14, 122, 263, 393, 422, 454 
Dauphin, death of the, 235 
Declaration of Rights, 285 
De Launay, governor of the Bastile, 270, 271 
Demarest, minister to Louis XIV., proposes creation of new 

offices, 36 

Demosthenes, 302, 431, 432, 435 
Descartes, 416 
Desmoulins, Camille, 14, 122, 260, 308, 351, 390, 396, 406, 407, 

411, 414, 454 



De Thou on massacre of the St. Bartholomew, 29 

Diderot, 76 

Double representation for Third Estate, 203, 417, 418, 421, 

426, 429, 430, 431, 432, 454, 455, 458 
DuBarry, mistress of Louis XV., 73, 74 
Dubois, Cardinal, 34 
Ducos, 244 

Dumont, 184, 226, 238, 239, 240, 256, 288, 301, 302, 353, 396 
Dumouriez, General, 326 
Duport, 405, 406 

Duquesnoy, Adam, opinions of Mirabeau, 291 
Duroverai, M., 224, 226, 285 

Edict of Nantes, 27 

Eglantine, Fabre d', 419 

Elizabeth, Princess, 14 

Elizabeth, Queen of England, law in retaliation of papal bull, 


Elliot, Lady, 457 
Emigration of King's aunts, 401 
Etats Generaux, published by Mirabeau, 219 


Favras, Marquis de, 361 

Fersen, Count, 350 

Festival of the Federation, 376 

Feudalism, burdens of, 35 

Flesselles, 269 

Fonqueux, M. de, named minister, 112 

Fontanges, Madame de, extravagance of, 36 

Fontanges, M. de, Archbishop of Narbonne, 352 

Foulon, 259 

Fox, 431, 433 

France, kingdom of many little kingdoms, 17 

Francois, murder of, 328 

Franklin, Benjamin, 95 ; his writings translated into French, 

g6; his influence in France, 97; his death in 1790, 97; 

Mirabeau pronounces eulogy in the National Assembly, 

97; 232 



Franks, under Clovis, lay foundations of French monarchy, 


Frochot, 412 
Froment, 281 
Fronde, civil wars of the, 17 

Gabelle, or salt tax, 44, 45, 46, 364 

Galileo, 22 

Gamaches, M., 436 

Game laws, 40 

Gauls conquered by the Franks, 16 

George of Hesse-Cassel, Prince, 420 

Girondins, 14, 262 

Gossec, composer of the music for the mass at the funeral 

of Mirabeau, 415 
Greville, Lord, 364 
Guizot, 392 


Hazlitt, 459 
Hebert, 14 
Helvetius, 76 
Henry IV., 27, 297 
Henry IV. of Germany, 20 
Henry II. of England, 20 
Hugo, Victor, 30, 165, 429, 438, 466 
Huguenots, 29 

Innocent III. preaches crusade against Albigenses, 21 
Inquisition, Tribunal of, 21 


Jacobins, 407, 414, 458, 462 

Jacquerie, The, 38 

Jefferson, Thomas, 241, 286 

Jesuits and Jansenists, controversy between, 32 

Johnson, 183 



Judges of the Inquisition, 22 
June 20, 1790, 376 
July 14, 1789, 270, 271 


La Bruyere, description of peasants by, 37 

La Fayette, Marquis de, 266, 268, 316, 318, 320, 321, 328, 329, 
333, 343, 345, 346, 348, 351, 361, 376, 382, 383, 387, 406, 
423, 460 

La Marck, 308, 309, 310, 334, 336, 338, 344, 351, 354, 356, 410, 
412, 426, 453, 456 

Lamartine, 133, 233 

Lamballe, Princess, 14 

Lambesc, Madame, 454 

Lambesc, Prince de, 264, 274, 277 

Lameth, Charles, 407, 411, 414 

Lameths, The, 207, 407 

Lanjuinais, 330 

Law Courts, " partial, venal, infamous," 47 

Law, John, 369 

Lawyers, 75 

Lavalette, 329 

La Valliere, 65 

Le Fevre, Abbe, 314 

Legrand, 237 

Leicester, Earl of, leads crusade against the Albigenses, 21 

Le Jay, Madame, 181 

Lenoir, M., 167, 174, 207 

Lettres de Cachet, 170, 171, 172 

Lewes, George Henry, 233 

L'Hopital, 104 

Liancourt, Duke de, 274 

Lomenie, Charles de, 188 

Lomenie, Louis de, 168, 188 

Lords, kings in little kingdoms, 38 

Louis IX., 297 

Louis XII., 297 

Louis XIV. stays progress of reformation in France, 27; 
subdues nobility and clergy, 28; abolished municipal elec- 
tions in 1692, 36 ; power and glory of his reign, 55 ; flunkey- 


ism, 56; etiquette of the court, 56; making of the king's 
toilet, 57, 58, 59 ; absolutism, 62 ; extravagance, 62 ; his 
mistresses, 65 ; makes war against the Netherlands, 66 ; 
amusements of the court, 67 ; political and financial condi- 
tion of the country, 68; appeal of the villagers of Cham- 
pagne, 68, 69, 70; death and burial of the king, 70 

Louis XV., his pleasures, 72 ; his extravagance, 73 ; his 
mistresses, 74; his death, 194 

Louis XVI., ascends the throne, 78; Talleyrand on his cor- 
onation, 77, 78 ; " reform of the mouth," 80 ; condition of 
commerce and manufactures, 80; manner, habits, and 
amusements of the king, 82 ; his weakness and vacillation, 
82 ; arouses despair in the heart of Louis XV., 83 ; names 
Turgot minister, 104 ; reforms, 105 ; dismisses Turgot, 
105; meeting of the States General, 115; orders the Third 
Estate to disperse, 253 ; Mirabeau defies the king through 
his messenger, 253 ; mobilizes troops at Versailles, 258 ; 
appoints a new ministry, 259; hears of the capture of the 
Bastile, 274 ; enters the Assembly, 276 ; promises to dismiss 
the ministers and recall Necker, 276; promises to visit 
Paris, 276; goes to Paris on the I7th of July, 276; met at 
the gates of the city by Bailly, the Mayor, 276; returns to 
Versailles, 277 ; first exodus of the nobles, 277 ; Necker 
returns, 280; banquet of the guards, 311 ; events of the 5th 
and 6th of October, 319; goes with his family to Paris, 
319; establishes his court in the Tuileries, 323 

Loustallot, editor of the Revolutions de Paris, 390 

Louvet on Paris, 50, 207 

Luther, 23 


Mably, 76 

Macaulay on Louis XIV., 61 ; 183 ; on Dumont, 187 

Maintenon, Madame de, 65 

Malesherbes on Turgot, 104 

Mallebranche, 192 

Malouet, 121, 192, 240 

Malseigne, Chevalier Guiot de, 387 

Mancini, Marie di, 65 

Mandat, The, 371 

Manuel, M., 167 



Marat, 122, 390, 391, 393, 4M, 416, 419, 454, 455 

Marie Antoinette, 14 ; making of toilet, 61 ; her part in 
bringing on the Revolution, 83 ; her charm and beauty, 
84; Arthur Young, Goethe, Madame Campan, Edmund 
Burke, and Madame le Brun describe her, 84 ; her manner, 
character, and conduct, 85 ; given to coquetry, 87 ; dia- 
mond necklace, 87 ; her amusements and diversions, 88 ; 
dubbed the " hated Austrian," 89 ; accused of the vilest 
crimes, 91 ; must be judged by her times, temptations, and 
surroundings, 93 ; pays a visit with her friend, Madame de 
Polignac, to the troops carousing in the Orangerie, 273 ; 
opposes Mirabeau in his ambition to reach the ministry, 
309; banquet of the Guards, 312; enters the supper-room 
with the king carrying in her arms the dauphin, 312; 
the mob of women reaches Versailles on the 5th of Octo- 
ber, 315, 316; mob attacks the palace, 317; queen flees 
to the apartments of the king, 318; La Fayette arrives, 
the troops drive the mob out of the palace, 318; she ap- 
pears on the balcony and faces the mob, 318, 319; goes 
with the king to Paris, 319; the royal family take up 
their abode at the Tuileries, 323; queen has an interview 
with Mirabeau at St. Cloud, 341 

Maria Theresa, 89; her daughters, 89 

Marseilles, 195, 196 

Massillon, description of peasants, 37 

Maury, Abbe, 293, 369, 373, 422 

Mauvillon, 308, 423 

Mazarin, 171 

Men of wealth of the middle class, 52, 53, 74 

Mercier on Paris, 50 

Mericourt, Theroigne de, 207 

Michelet on Voltaire and Rousseau, 76; 232, 247, 250; on 
Desmoulins, 262; 379, 400 

Mignet, 131, 267 

Miles, A. W., 407, 408, 409 

Minto, Lord, 152, 457 

Mirnheau, Barrel, 427 

Mirabeaus, The, 132, 133; their origin, 133, 134, 135 

Mirabeau, Bruno di Riquetti, chastises usher of the royal 
household, 137; salutes statue of Henry IV., 138 


Mirabeau, Jean Antoine, 138; "right arm of the Duke of 
Vendome," 138; his character, 138; presented by Ven- 
dome to Louis XIV., 138 ; wounded at Cassano, left on the 
field supposed to be dead, 139; marries Franchise Castel- 
lane Norante, 140 

Mirabeau, Chevalier de (le bailli), 136; letter from Victor, 
146; 154, 164; describes eloquence of Mirabeau at trial at 
Aix, 178 

Mirabeau, Victor Riquetti, Marquis de, father of the great 
tribune, 140; at thirteen enters the army, 141; sent to a 
military school in Paris, 141 ; falls in love with an ac- 
tress, 142; his father sends him forthwith to the army, 
142 ; marries Genevieve de Vassan, 143 ; separates from 
his wife, 144 ; installs a mistress in his home, 144 ; author 
of distinction on social and political subjects, 144; quar- 
rels with his son Honore, 153; sends him to the Isle of 
Rhe under a lettre de cachet, 153 ; imprisons his son in the 
Chateau d'lf, 157; has him transferred to the fortress of 
Joux, 157; after Honore escapes from this prison, follows 
him to Holland, has him arrested and sent to Vincennes, 
163 ; reconciliation, 176 

Mirabeau, Marquise de, her marriage, 143; separation, 144 

Mirabeau, Honore Gabriel Riquetti, Comte de, his reply to 
Roederer, 31 ; pronounces eulogy on Benjamin Franklin in 
National Assembly, 97 ; urges the calling of the States Gen- 
eral, 124 ; his appearance, 125 ; Madame de Stael describes 
him, 125 ; impression he created, 126 ; " Behold the victim 
already adorned," 127 ; Carlyle on his genius, 131 ; Mignet's 
description, 131, 132; his birth, 149; attacked by small- 
pox, 150; placed under care of a tutor, M. Poisson, 150; 
sent to school in Paris, 151 ; not allowed to bear his family 
name, 152; secured commission in the army, 153; love 
affair, 153 ; flees to Paris, 153 ; arrested under a lettre de 
cachet and imprisoned on the Isle de Rhe, 153; sails to 
Corsica, 154 ; wild life in Paris, 155 ; marries daughter of 
Marquis de Marignane, 156; his extravagance involves 
him in debt and he is confined under a lettre de cachet 
within the limits of Manosque, 156; his wife corresponds 
with Chevalier Gassaud, 157; duel threatened, 157; quar- 
rel with Baron Villeneuve Moans, 157; arrested under 


lettre de cachet and imprisoned in the Chateau d'lf, 157; 
transferred to the fortress of Joux, 157 ; meets Sophie de 
Monnier at Pontarlier, 157; seduction of Sophie, 160; 
flight of the lovers to Holland, 161 ; they are arrested and 
separated, 162 ; Mirabeau sent to Vincennes and Sophie 
to a house of correction in Paris, 163; he is released, 164; 
his work on lettres de cachet, 170; reconciliation with his 
father, 176; stands trial at Pontarlier for seduction of 
Sophie, 176; argues his own case and is successful, 177; 
meets Madame de Nehra, 180 ; his industry, 182 ; meets 
Romilly, 184; his relations with Dumont, 184; seeks to 
be elected by the Noblesse a deputy to the States General, 
T 9S J rejected by the Noblesse, 195 ; stands as deputy for 
Third Estate in towns of Marseilles and Aix, 195; his 
campaign, 195, 196; addresses rioters at Marseilles, 196; 
arraigns the nobility, 199, 200, 201, 202 ; decides to stand 
for Aix, 204; first sessions of the States General, 212; 
king's council attempts to suppress Mirabeau's paper, 219; 
defends Duroverai in the Assembly, 223 ; advocates " Rep- 
resentatives of the French People" as the title for the 
Assembly, 237; defies the king's command to the Assem- 
bly to separate, 253; denounces the feasting in the 
Orangerie, 275 ; appointed on committee to draft Declara- 
tion of Rights, 285; moves that the Assembly issue an 
address to the people counseling moderation, 295 ; sup- 
ports measure of Necker in favor of 25 per cent, income 
tax, 301 ; schemes for portfolio, 309 ; suspected of incit- 
ing mob on the 5th and 6th of October, 324; fully exon- 
erated after investigation, 324; speaks against amendment 
of M. Blin, 330; pensioned, 337; interview with the 
queen, 341 ; makes overtures to Necker and La Fayette, 
345 ; advises king and queen, 348 ; serves two masters, 
Royalty and Revolution, 349 ; lives extravagantly, 351 ; was 
he venal ? 353 ; the Favras affair, 362 ; his connection with 
it, 363 ; confiscation of church property, 367 ; opposes new 
elections in the district, 374 ; favors motion of St. Etienne, 
393 ; Robespierre opposes motion at the Jacobins, 394 ; 
elected president of the National Assembly, 395; address 
to Quakers, 397 ; opposes law against emigration, 403 ; 
assails Barnave, Duport, the Lameths, and their followers, 


405 ; attacked at the evening meeting of the Jacobins, 406 ; 
closing days, 410; his death, 413; his funeral, 415; poi- 
soning suspected, 417; post-mortem, 417; compared with 
his contemporaries, 422; statesman, politician, author, 424; 
his character to be judged by his surroundings, 426; ora- 
tor, 428 ; his voice, 429 ; personal appearance, 430 ; com- 
pared with the world's great orators, 432; his repartee, 
436; man of letters, 437; letter to King of Prussia, 439; 
his literary works, 445; religious views, 447; letter to 
Wilberforce, 448 ; his vices and virtues, 453 ; forgiving in 
disposition, 454; beloved by his servants, 455; style of 
dress, 456; his prodigality, 457; love of music and flow- 
ers, 457; his vanity and egotism, 457; could he have 
stayed the Revolution? 458 

Mole, 303 

Molleville, Bertrand de, paints disorder in Paris, 268 

Monnier, M. de, 160, 166, 427 

Monnier, Sophie de, 157, 160, 165, 166; her death, 167; 168, 
169, 170 

Monpezat, 146 

Monsieur, 338, 354 

Montespan, Madame de, 65 

Montigny, M. Lucas, 188 

Montmorency, Duke de, 376 

Montmorin, Madame de, 123 

Morris, Gouverneur, 208, 321, 453 

Mounier, 121, 220, 237, 240, 285, 3*5, 3*6, 324 


McCarthy, Justin H., 189, 190, 346, 353, 355, 407, 465 


Napoleon, 131, 233, 244, 255, 279, 422 
National Assembly, commons declare themselves the, 221 
Necker appointed minister, 107; compte rendu, 107; his dep- 
osition, 108; his recall, 113; 191, 203, 246, 254; is sum- 
marily dismissed, quits France, 259, 260, 266; returns in 
triumph, 280; demands universal amnesty, 281; proposes 


income tax of 25 per cent, 301 ; his measure supported by 
Mirabeau, 301 ; 333, 334, 335, 345, 361, 364, 39A 391, 392, 
393, 460 

Nobility, The new, 52, 53 


O'Connell, Daniel, 434 

October sth and 6th, 314, 3 1 5, 3 16, 31 7, 323, 324, 325 

Oelsner, 408 

Offices, creation of public, 36 

Orangerie, festival in the, 273 

Orleans, Duke d', 14, 208, 264, 308, 323, 325, 460 


Palais Royal, 257, 260, 311, 313, 426 

Paris, Jansenism in, 33 ; Louvet's description, 50 ; Mercier's 

description, 50; Arthur Young describes scenes, 50; 205, 

211, 267, 313 
Paupers, 48 
Peasants, burdens imposed upon the, 42; humiliating feudal 

services, 43 
Penn, William, 26 
Peter the Hermit, 435 
Petion, 313, 330, 419 

" Petit Schonbrunn," nickname for Trianon, 89 
" Petit Vienne," nickname for Trianon, 89 
Philip II. of Spain, edict against heretics, 23 
Philosophers, their influence, 76 
Pitt, William, 431, 449 

Polignac, Madame de, 273; abandons the queen, 277 
Pompadour, Madame de, her extravagance, 36; mistress of 

Louis XV., 73 
Pontarlier, 157, 176 
Portalis, 177 
Provence, Count of, 348, 361, 364 


Quesnay, physician to Louis XV 7 his remark to Madame du 

Hausset, 63 
Qm-snay, Frangois de, 144 




Rancourt, M. de, 165 

Raynal, 76 

Reb, Count de, 335 

Reformation, The, 27 

Richelieu made crown absolute, 17; suppressed public 

offices, 36; 171, 214 
Riquetti, Thomas, entertains Louis XIV. in his house at 

Marseilles, 136; his son Honore created Marquis de Mira- 

beau in 1685, 136 
Rivarol, 288, 354 
Robespierre, 14, 122; replies to Archbishop of Aix, 227; 

character, 228; 262, 308, 393, 394, 414, 418, 419 
Rocca, Count of, 179 
Rochechouart, Count of, 362 
Rochefoucauld, Duke de, 266 
Roederer, 31 
Rohan, Cardinal de, 34; connection with the affair of the 

diamond necklace, 87 

Roman Church, its organization and power, 18 
Romilly, 453 
Rousseau, 76 
Royal sitting, 246, 250 


Salle des Menus, 249 
Saint Priest, 322 
Savoy, Duke of, 436 
Scott, Sir Walter, 430, 459 
Segur, Count de, 272 
Servetus, 24 
Shakespeare, 432 

Sieyes, 76, 122, 236, 240, 241; sketch of, 242; 253, 257; op- 
poses abolition of tithes, 289 
Slave trade, 448 ; oration by Mirabeau on, 450 
Soliers, Jean Baptiste 1'Hermite de, 134 
Sophie, letters to, 167, 168, 169, 170 
Spinoza, 21 

Stael, Madame de, 122, 350, 429 
States General, 113; Versailles chosen as place of meeting, 

114; opening ceremonies, May 4, 1789, 115 
31 481 


Sermon by Bishop of Nancy, 115; first session in the Salle 

des Menus, 117 
Stein, Alfred, 189 
Stephens, 392, 423 
St. Bartholomew, massacre of, 275 
St. Etienne, Rabaut, 121, 393 
St. Huruge, Marquis de, 407 
St. Just, 262 

St. Lazare, monastery of, 267 
St. Petersburg, rejoicing over fall of Bastile, 272 

Talleyrand on the coronation of Louis XVI., 77; 244, 278, 

279, 364, 367, 383, 412, 413 
Talma, Madame, 207 
Tennis Court, 247, 372 
Tennis-Court oath, 248 
Teutch, Mirabeau's valet, 455 
Thevenard, M., 326 

Thiers on Necker's speech, 123; 236, 284, 356, 417 
Tocqueville on the old noblesse, 53 
Tollendal, Lally, 397 
Tonnerre, Clermont, 254, 274 
Towns, conditions prevailing in, 49 
Turgot, minister of Louis XVI., 104; his reforms, 105; his 

dismissal, 105; Condorcet and Voltaire regret dismissal, 

106; succeeded by Necker, 107 


Valfond, M., 436 

Yamcnargues on Marquis Mirabeau, 147 

Vergniaud, 31 

Versailles, 67, 88; meeting of States General at, 115, 124. 

258, 259, 265, 273, 295, 311, 313 
Vienne, Archbishop of, 249, 266 
Villeroi, Duke de, addresses Louis XV., 63 
Vincenncs, castle of, 427 
Virieu, Count de, 266 


AUG 111969 


Volney, 396 

Voltaire, 30, 76, 105 

Von Hoist, 79, 189, 190, 347, 353, 356, 459 


Waterloo, I, 278 

Watson, 88; on Robespierre, 233 

White Terror, 367 

Wilberforce, 448 

Wilkes, John, 184 

Willert, 332, 459 

Young, Arthur, 47, 50, 240 


Zwingli, 23 







Warwick, C. P. 
Mirabeau and 

the French